Product Development Center

Product Development Center (PDC)

Background: Community maker space that (1) allows innovators to advance their ideas to product, (2) enables advanced engineering consulting to support local industries, (3) assists innovators with obtaining funding and (4) generates revenue from multiple sources to become self-sustaining.

How it addresses entrepreneurial needs: The PDC will provide advanced prototyping and small-scale manufacturing equipment that individual entrepreneurs typically cannot afford. The PDC will also provide grant writing development expertise, complementing a set of skills and knowledge typically lacking in entrepreneurs.

How it helps startups achieve financial viability: Prototypes play an important role in building investor confidence and stimulating venture investment. The assistance with grant development provides access to non-dilutive funds (e.g. SBIR, STTR grants).

How it helps startups achieve technological viability: The PDC provides a combination of funding and tools to advance technologies at earlier stages through advanced stages (i.e. Technology Readiness Levels 3-8).

How it leverages UC Merced: Most technologies emerging from universities are in an extremely early development stage. The PDC provides a set of resources for advancing these technologies, giving them a 7 place to “graduate” into. STTR grants in particular, which require a university partner, will be developed at the PDC and will allow collaborations that advance UC Merced innovations.

How it leverages California strengths and resources: The people of the San Joaquin Valley partnered with the UC system to bring UC Merced to the region, and are actively looking for the chance to create new opportunities. Advancing new technologies will create opportunities for teams to form around emerging technologies to bring them to market and launch regional industries.

Implementation: A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued in January, inviting applicants to apply to receive funding for use over the course of three years. The PDC is estimated to launch in July of 2017. Expected use of funds will include purchasing maker-space equipment, start-up costs, staffing, and rent. Equipment will be owned by the University but provided under a lease and revenue-sharing agreement. Expected staff would include a manager, a grant development specialist, and an engineer-in-residence. UC Merced will provide a grant to a successful applicant who will use the funds to operate the Product Development Center.