Central Valley Entrepreneurship Academy
Background: In partnership with the UC Davis Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, a three day workshop will be held at UC Merced, inviting innovators from the region, especially those at UC Merced and regional national labs (Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) to connect and become acquainted with the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. A focus of the program is to cultivate the ability to understand and tap into networks that can perfect innovations and launch companies. During the three years of the expansion program, grants will be made for UC Merced faculty, staff, and students to attend the workshops regardless of their location. A new mentor engagement software platform will be developed which will facilitate mentoring and combine the mentoring networks of different entrepreneurship programs (e.g. UC Davis and UC Merced) as well as facilitate the formation of the CVV Legal Assistance Network attorney/law student mentoring program.
How it addresses entrepreneurial needs: Innovators often mistake innovation development for startup development. By helping them to understand the difference, and to help them learn the importance of connecting with networks and markets, their entrepreneurial potential and their potential to work effectively with entrepreneurs can be unlocked. When delivered by experienced mentors, the effect of these messages are powerful and life-changing.
How it helps startups achieve financial viability: When an innovator is the CEO, the business plan often looks more like a research and development plan. Research and development is expensive. 9 Learning how to advance the development of a business can save capital as well as create nearer-term opportunities to secure investment or even sell product.
How it helps startups achieve technological viability: A principal activity of the program will be to help innovators recognize that technology development has to be strongly coupled to a market need. This results in solutions that are both technologically- and commercially-viable.
How it leverages UC Merced: Faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates alike are all steeped in the innovative culture. Entrepreneurship unlocks the potential of innovation by connecting it to the marketplace. This program will leverage UC Merced’s innovation engine by teaching innovators how to get to market.
How it leverages California strengths and resources: This program relies heavily on an existing mentor network. By joining UC Merced’s and UC Davis’s I&E programs, the available mentor network will be expanded and tapping these mentors will leverage their strengths.
Implementation: UC Davis and UC Merced will mutually contribute awarded funds to this program. UC Davis and UC Merced will collaboratively promote the program and recruit participants and mentors. A scholarship program will provide registration costs for worthy participants.