UC Davis Ramps Up New Commercial Venture Formations

The Daily Democrat
August 15, 2014

UC Davis has launched 14 commercial startups during the past year to June 30 — the largest number of new ventures based on the university’s technology to be started in a single year.
This represents an increase from eight startups the preceding fiscal year.
“Nearly doubling the number of university-based startups is a major milestone achieved by the Office of Research, working closely with entrepreneurial faculty,” said Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research. “This achievement illustrates the huge potential of our faculty for driving economic development, and is in perfect alignment with Chancellor Linda Katehi’s goals for the campus, and the recent emphasis on technology transfer by our new University of California president, Janet Napolitano.”
Of the 21 companies launched over the last two years, most are based in Northern California, with several located in Davis and surrounding areas. Examples include Tule Technologies, 5Plus, Reprovantage, and ViVita. Many are developing solutions that address issues of growing importance such as agricultural water efficiency and human health.
Tule Technologies, for example, is developing a sensor-based monitoring system based on UC Davis technology that allows growers to use water more efficiently when irrigating their fields. Reprovantage, a biotechnology company founded by three UC Davis researchers, is focused on developing diagnostic and treatment applications for a recently identified cause of male infertility discovered at UCD.
According to David Earp, chairman of the board of Reprovantage and a successful biotechnology entrepreneur, “It’s terrific to have such a supportive interaction with the UCD technology management team. We’re all working toward the goal of seeing UC Davis technology get funded and developed, and the collaborative leadership we’ve experienced in working with UC Davis is key to making that happen.”
The increase in university startups has been cultivated by a unique and collaborative network, enabled by Venture Catalyst, a new unit within the Technology Management and Corporate Relations division of the Office of Research, led by Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Dushyant Pathak. Venture Catalyst works closely with campus and local community resources, including the university’s Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Engineering Translational Technology Center, to support the translation of university research into commercial applications.
“Unlocking our researchers’ innovative potential has been enhanced by our commitment to working collaboratively across the university and with external entrepreneurial drivers,” said Pathak. “Venture Catalyst represents a unique focus on enabling our researchers to see their technologies make societal and economic impact.” The unit is launching a number of novel programs designed to support the innovative and entrepreneurial drive of UC Davis faculty and inventors.
In total, 62 startups based on inventions originating at UC Davis have been formed since 2003, with recent startups resulting in the creation of hundreds of high-value technology jobs in our region. Recent successful UC Davis startups include Folsom-based SynapSense Corporation, which was founded in 2006 and recently acquired by Panduit. SynapSense develops wireless energy-efficient solutions that improve capacity and reduce energy costs for data centers, which typically consume the majority of energy used in commercial buildings. The company has won several awards for their innovative and green products, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Innovator award in 2008.

Article By Andy Fell – UC Davis News Service