New funding could help the UC Merced Venture Lab expand not only in Merced but also into Atwater and Modesto, the university announced Tuesday.
Each of the 10 University of California campuses will receive $2.2 million in one-time funding from Assembly Bill 2664, known as “University of California: innovation and entrepreneurship expansion,” authored by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall, according to the university.
The UC Merced Office of Business Development has proposed a plan to expand the resources available to entrepreneurs across the region. The plan calls for expanding the reach of the business incubator that is the Venture Lab, starting a fund that will help entrepreneurs bring their projects to fruition, expanding a legal assistance network and other efforts.
The success of new businesses is heavily dependent upon connecting to networks, according to Peter Schuerman, UC Merced’s associate vice chancellor for research and economic development.
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To increase the success rate of new job creators, our expansion program will continue to build partnerships in the region that deliver funding opportunities, mentorship, legal advice and space to grow.
Peter Schuerman, UC Merced’s associate vice chancellor for research and economic development
“To increase the success rate of new job creators, our expansion program will continue to build partnerships in the region that deliver funding opportunities, mentorship, legal advice and space to grow,” he said in a statement.
The Central Valley includes some of the poorest regions in the nation. About 16.4 percent of Californians lived below the poverty line – about $24,000 per year for a family of four – in 2014, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
Merced County’s poverty rate is 21.4 percent, according to the institute.
The most compelling part of the new funding is the effort to push the ideas from students to become fledgling businesses, according to Frank Quintero, the economic development director for the city of Merced.
“It reinforces what we have known all along – that entrepreneurship and invention from the UC is critical for the Valley,” he told the Sun-Star.
UC officials say the university system can help by bringing in or breaking into new economic sectors.
The UC generates five inventions each day and more patents than any other university in the country, according to officials.
“Our program complements this strength of the UC to support and develop innovation by connecting it to entrepreneurship,” Schuerman said in a statement.
It reinforces what we have known all along – that entrepreneurship and invention from the UC is critical for the Valley.
Frank Quintero, economic development director for city of Merced
The Venture Lab is a place for students to turn their research into moneymaking ventures.
UC Merced has contributed $1.4 billion into the San Joaquin Valley economy to date, and more than $2.6 billion into the state’s economy, according to numbers from the school.
The possibility to use the funds to expand those efforts has “injected a great sense of excitement and energy” into each campus, according to Christine Gulbranson, the UC system’s senior vice president for research innovation and partnership.
“The new infrastructure and programs to support student and faculty innovation and entrepreneurship made possible through Assemblywoman Irwin’s vision, the Legislature’s support and the governor’s backing will pay educational and economic dividends to California for decades to come,” she said in a statement.