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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UC Davis reviewing concepts for innovation hub

Since the March 31 deadline, 43 proposals have been received from students and the local community regarding the creation of an innovation hub – a center for technological advancements – for UC Davis.

Earlier this year, Chancellor Linda Katehi issued a “Request for Concepts” to obtain ideas from the community and region for the innovation hub.

Provost Ralph Hexter and Vice Chancellor for Research Harris Lewin are some of the faculty currently at work reviewing the submissions. This group will eventually be expanded to include more members of the faculty and the community.

Karl Mohr, assistant vice chancellor for administrative and resource management, is a part of the concept selection process.

“The core mission is to move research out of the lab bench and into the market,” he said. “The chancellor firmly believes the university and its research engine can be a significant contributor to local and regional economic efforts.”

The innovation hub plans to spur research, entrepreneurial business and the like, as well as boost the local and regional economy.

“The students will be provided with an environment to develop new ideas, create a business plan, find early funding and start their own companies,” Katehi said in an e-mail. “Closer links with industry will make it easier for faculty to take their ideas into the marketplace, opening up a new area of endeavor for faculty and researchers who want to follow that route.”

Ken Hiatt, director of community development and sustainability for the city of Davis, sent a staff report with the city’s concept for the innovation hub to Katehi.

According to the city’s concept report, the hub will focus on encouraging technological innovation to bolster the city’s economy and society.

The city proposed three initiatives: establishing an innovation broker, developing a physical innovation hub and creating a collaborative market that will attract private and public investors.

The broker would give opportunities to innovators to connect with each other, provide the necessary licensing needed for the innovations and assist in the formation of potential companies and its technologies.

“An intermediary to connect researchers, entrepreneurs, investors and industry partners is needed to facilitate commercialization of new discoveries at UC Davis,” the staff report stated.

The city has offered downtown Davis and the Nishi property – which is located between Richards Boulevard and the train tracks – as a location for a physical hub.

“This is walking or cycling distance from the main campus, has the cultural amenities desired by innovators and is connected to the major commercial centers of San Francisco and Sacramento by I-80,” as stated in the report.

According to the report, a physical innovation hub would allow the community and the campus to interact more effectively. It would also be able to provide resources for the budding entrepreneurs.

The city’s proposed collaborative marketing strategy would promote the formation of more jobs, especially for graduate students, and stimulate the local economy, the report stated.

According to Katehi, the cost of the innovation hub is not set in stone.

“The cost of any innovation hub will depend on exactly what course we take,” Katehi said. “Any innovation hub will have to be financed within our budget constraints and will require a public-private partnership.”

Currently, a decision has not been made as to whether the hub will be virtual, physical or both.

“Rather than selecting a single proposal from the 43 ideas submitted, we will most likely select elements of different concepts that mesh with campus resources and objectives,” Katehi said.

“Much depends on the final shape of the proposal. Logically, it would take longer to build a physical research and industrial park than to build an online information exchange.”

Completion of selecting concepts and formulating them into a plan that achieves the innovation hub’s goals is estimated to occur by early summer.

CLAIRE TAN can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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