UCLA, USC, Caltech are collaborating in a new center to translate scientific and engineering research into technology for the marketplace
By Bill Kisliuk
A collaboration among the Institute for Technology Advancement at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the UCLA Anderson School of Management, USC and Caltech has been awarded a multimillion-dollar grant by the National Science Foundation to create I-Corps, a hub of innovation that unites public and private institutions throughout Southern California.
The new center, to be jointly headquartered at and administered by UCLA, USC and Caltech, is part of the NSF Innovation Corps initiative, which is aimed at fostering innovation throughout the U.S. by encouraging the translation of ideas and research beyond the laboratory to create social and economic impact. The announcement of the new I-Corps node cements the position of Southern California as a crucial focal point of technology entrepreneurship in the country.
UCLA Engineering Professor Dwight Streit will lead the UCLA effort. Streit is director of ITA, the school’s incubator for startup companies and technology transfer based on faculty and student innovations.
Yannis Yortsos, dean of USC Viterbi School of Engineering, is the principal investigator of the grant, and Andrea Belz, entrepreneur-in-residence (technology) at the USC Marshall School of Business and the Viterbi School of Engineering, is director of the new node.
“We are delighted to partner with USC and Caltech on the Southern California node of the NSF Innovation Corps,” Streit said. “UCLA Engineering and the Anderson school have a track record of fostering entrepreneurship on campus and around the region, and we are excited to support the NSF’s mission to make the region an even more vibrant technology hub.”
In addition, UCLA Anderson will partner with USC Marshall in teaching customer development courses geared toward accelerating university technology entrepreneurship. Anderson faculty member and entrepreneur Nathan Wilson will join USC’s Belz as national instructors based in Los Angeles.
The I-Corps program helps to generate startup companies by encouraging entrepreneurs to learn about the market opportunities for technologies generated by NSF-funded research. NSF works with partners in the private sector to secure funding and additional resources to help those startups succeed.
“NSF expects the new Southern California node will draw upon the deep wellspring of talented people in that region, strengthening an already robust national innovation network,” said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF’s assistant director for the Directorate for Engineering, which oversees the I-Corps program. “The I-Corps program is ultimately an investment in people, giving them the tools they need to make an impact on their communities, for both societal and economic benefit.”
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by Caltech for NASA, will be a part of the Southern California node.
Other nodes are in the Bay Area, New York City, Washington, D.C., Georgia and Michigan. NSF also announced that a new node will be based in Texas.
Image: Professor Dwight Streit, director of UCLA Engineering’s Institute for Technology Advancement.