UCR Launches Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs

EPIC is partnership between UCR, Riverside County and community

UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, center, at the EPIC launch event on Oct. 26, with, from left, UCR faculty member David Kisailus, who presented on Nature Inspired Industries, and graduate student Jesus Rivera.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Entrepreneurs took over the recent launch of a UCR-Riverside County initiative – just as was intended.

The Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center, or Riverside EPIC, will provide resources for training, mentors, and connections to investors and partners. EPIC’s Wednesday, Oct. 26, launch sponsored by the County of Riverside, featured seven startups presenting to an audience of about 200. Additional entrepreneurs set up exhibits in the lobby of the Riverside County Administration Building, where the afternoon event was held.

UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox called EPIC “another example how we here in our region are going to show others around the country how this not only can be done, but I would suggest, how it should be done.”

The innovations presented ranged from the “Lab-on-a-Chip,” which would conduct microscale experiments, to a way of cutting the duration and expense of preclinical trials, to diagnosing citrus greening, which threatens California’s $4 billion citrus industry.

EPIC involves numerous community partnerships, and its programming and facilities will be made available to UCR students and faculty, and entrepreneurs outside of campus.

“The key to our success is our partners,” EPIC Director Larry Morgan said. “EPIC provides the foundation, but the collaboration with the county and our partner cities’ economic development departments is crucial for entrepreneurs to grow and thrive; this is what’s going to set EPIC apart from others.”

The primary sponsor is the Riverside County Economic Development Agency. Other partners include the cities of Corona, Murrieta, Riverside, Temecula and Palm Desert, the Temecula Valley Entrepreneur Exchange, InSoCal Connect, the Murrieta Innovation Center, and Excite.

“We’re here today to discuss increasing the opportunities in Riverside County, not just for students and faculty of UC Riverside but for everyone in the county,” UCR Vice Chancellor of Research and Economic Development Michael Pazzani said at the launch.

EPIC is borne of feedback from the region’s economic development organizations and innovation centers, which called for greater resources for entrepreneurs. Funding comes from a combination of the UCR Office of Research and Economic Development, contributions from regional organizations and entrepreneurs, and other sources.

While elements of EPIC have been in place at UCR for some time, the new incarnation will add entrepreneurial classes, a broad-scale mentorship program, training, access to potential investors and funds for “proof-of-concept,” and resources for growth.

Among the community-based programs will be a series of seminars and workshops throughout the year, on campus and through existing community partners.

In the more immediate future, UCR plans to create the Highlander Venture Capital Fund to provide seed and startup capital. Presently, UCR is working with a venture firm out of Silicon Valley to raise the capital needed for the investments.

UCR Associate Vice Chancellor for Technology Partnerships Rosibel Ochoa said more than 25 opportunities have already been identified within the university.

“We are confident that EPIC and its partners will uncover many additional leading-edge entrepreneurial ideas which can become a reality and create jobs within our region,” she said.

The UC system generates more patents than any other university in the United States, averaging five inventions a day. UC students found a new startup every two weeks, and UC-affiliated companies employ more than 38,000 workers, contributing more than $20 billion to the California economy.

At UCR, more than 70 new inventions are generated by university faculty and researchers in areas including agriculture, biomedical, driverless vehicles, energy, and the environment.


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