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UC-Davis, National Labs to Train Science Entrepreneurs

Microfluidics device

Microfluidics devices — labs on chips or disks — are among the technologies with commercial use developed at national labs. (Jeff McMillan, Sandia National Lab.)

23 January 2015. Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories are partnering with the Graduate School of Management at University of California in Davis to train scientists in entrepreneurial skills to take their discoveries to market. The pilot program, called Lab-Corps, is funded by a $350,000 grant from U.S. Department of Energy, parent agency of the national labs.

The university says more than 60 researchers attended a Lab-Corps kick-off meeting on Wednesday. Under the program, researcher teams at Livermore and Sandia will compete for two spots at training sessions in July and October 2015 at National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Each team selected will receive $75,000 to design commercialization plans for their technologies. The competition is scheduled for late March.

UC-Davis plans to apply entrepreneur training experience developed in its Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, part of the Graduate School of Management. The institute brings together UC-Davis students and faculty with entrepreneurs, business executives, and investors to build skills and networks needed to launch a new enterprise. The university says since 2006, the institute trained some 1,200 researchers and academics resulting in 50 new companies that attracted about $100 million in funding.

The partnership includes i-GATE, a technology business incubator in Livermore, California that helps early-stage technology entrepreneurs and works with the Livermore and Sandia labs, both located in Livermore. “What makes Lab-Corps unique,” says i-GATE executive director Brandon Cardwell in a university statement, “is the application of lean start-up principles, which are common in Silicon Valley, to lab technologies and the national lab environment.”

In August, UC-Davis reported the formation of 14 new technology companies based on research at the university in the previous fiscal year ending on 30 June, almost double the 8 start-ups established in the previous year. Most of the new companies, says the university, are located in northern California. Currently, 4 start-ups are operating at i-GATE, with another 4 companies spun-off and operating on their own.

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