UCI Applied Innovation: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Businesses

03/04/19 | 6 MIN READ

The main goal is to support economic growth and job creation in the local community.UCI Applied Innovation (in partnership with the Beall Family Foundation -- one of the founding partners for our very own wet lab incubator at the UCI Research Park) is a non-profit organization that's maintained a primary focus to create an innovation district in Orange County, which is believed can be accomplished by bringing together local entrepreneurs and much of the surrounding business community. UCI Applied Innovation plans to make a bridge between the University of California, Irvine and the larger business community in Orange County by offering a number of programs and resources for aspiring innovators.

The connections that the programs of UCI Applied Innovation create involve entrepreneurs who want to gain access to inventions and talent at the university or larger corporations that would like to tap into the research capabilities that the university maintains.

The main goal of UCI Applied Innovation and the programs that it offers is to support economic growth and job creation in the local community. They foster growth and development by providing all kinds of resources to startups while also connecting startups and teams with Orange County's vibrant business community and industry leaders. When it comes to the "innovation district" that they're looking to create in Orange County, the vision is to produce a higher number of start-ups and scale-ups in an effort to create a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Influencing UCI Undergraduate and Graduate Education

Among the main goals of UCI Applied Innovation is to influence UCI undergraduate and graduate education, which they do by providing a minor degree for UCI undergraduates as well as certificates for the UCI Merage School of Business. In partnership with the UCI Merage School of Business, UCI Applied Innovation provides much of the resources and programs that are necessary to learn and fulfill the requirements that these degrees and certificates have.

The main programs supported by UCI Applied Innovation for undergraduate and graduate education include a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program as well as the UCI Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, both of which are designed to assist students in embarking on careers as entrepreneurs.

These programs cover a wide range of subjects that any entrepreneur should expect to encounter while in the business world, which includes such subjects as venture capital, planning a new venture, and private equity. The Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship takes these studies further by providing students with an extensive amount of practical experience that can be used while the student is starting their career as an entrepreneur.

The program will also provide students with core knowledge on such subjects as assembling a team, preparing a business plan, creating a business model, and accumulating the necessary financing. Throughout the nine month program, students will gain numerous opportunities within the entrepreneurial ecosystem that has been fostered by UCI Applied Innovation.

When it comes time for students of this program to start their own ventures, UCI Applied Innovation along with several other partners will actively support the efforts of these students to do so. Other certificate programs available in partnership with UCI Applied Innovation include the social science undergraduate certificate, innovation and product development certificates, and additional graduate certificates in real estate and digital transformation.

UCI Applied Innovation Resources

The aim of UCI Applied Innovation is to provide local entrepreneurs with the resources that they require to be successful in the ever evolving landscape of technology and innovation. On that front, the resources provided by UCI Applied Innovation are numerous. These resources are designed to empower local entrepreneurs and innovative startups based out of Orange County. The resources available through UCI Applied Innovation fall into seven categories of competitions, education, events, facilities and tools, funding, incubation, and startup services.

They host four upcoming competitions that include Tech Surge, the New Venture Competition, the Beall Design Competition, and Butterworth Design Competition, all of which are designed to encourage innovation and the creation of new technologies. Their educational resources include everything from a social science undergraduate certificate to outgoing material transfer forms. The funding programs and grants that they offer extend to The Cove Fund, an investor group called Tech Coast Angels, and the Small Business Innovation Research Program.

Programs offered by UCI Applied Innovation

Much of what UCI Applied Innovation offers is available through the large number of programs that they provide, which extend from their involvement with a student startup fund to a wet lab incubator. These programs are designed to support the ecosystem as well as the entrepreneurial community that's found on the UCI campus. For instance, the Student Startup Fund is a program at UCI Applied Innovation that aims to provide students with micro-grants that help to fund their startup businesses and entrepreneurial concepts.

These grants can be as much as $1,000 for specialized software, small equipment, prototyping materials, supplies, and fees for traveling to conferences. While any student or recent alumni of UCI can apply for one of these grants, they are mainly available to students of the undergraduate and graduate programs mentioned previously. Some of the additional programs available to students, entrepreneurs, and startups include Innovation Advisors, BioEngine, Pop Grants, and SBDC, each of which has different goals.

The ANTrepreneur Center

The ANTrepreneur Center is among the primary programs offered by UCI Applied Innovation that provides students who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship with a variety of programs and services to assist them and encourage their entrepreneurial work. The main goal of this program is to help students build their ideas from the initial spark of imagination to eventual success, which typically occurs when the idea has been formed into a successful business. The location at which this program takes place is the Banning Alumni House, which is located between the Law Library and the Merage School of Business.

The suite of services and resources that the Antrepreneur Center provides is an ever-growing one that includes everything from networking events and consultations to workshops and guests speakers, all of which can be highly beneficial towards helping a student turn their idea into reality.

This program also connects students with additional resources that are available throughout the university. Numerous events and programs are held weekly through the ANTrepreneur Center such as entrepreneur case studies, new venture competitions, and entrepreneurship board games.

Tech Surge

Another distinct program offered by UCI Applied Innovation is Tech Surge, which is a type of parallel track that's available for the different teams that are participating in the annual Beall New Venture Competition. When participating in this special education program, teams must license and use UCI intellectual property to create a business idea for participation in the Beall New Venture Competition.

The winners of this Tech Surge track will be eligible for grant money that totals as much as $15,000. This grant money can be used by the winners to continue developing their winning venture through the Wayfinder incubator program. The Wayfinder incubator program is a special incubator at UCI Applied Innovation that's available to UCI-affiliated startups that are looking to accelerate development of their business. The incubator provides office space, guidance, and valuable resources.

The Cove at The University of California, Irvine

Another core focus of UCI Applied Innovation is The Cove, which is a program that was formed by UCI Applied Innovation as a means of accelerating the collaboration of various innovation partners throughout Orange County.

The Cove consists of 31,000 square feet of office space and state-of-the-art technological facilities that help to facilitate better connections between these innovation partners. While The Cove is similar in nature to a startup incubator, it's considered instead to be a microcosm of the greater entrepreneurship ecosystem that UCI Applied Innovation is helping to foster. For instance, the connections that UCI and The Cove have to the corporate community and various UCI researchers can help other partners in the community with negotiating licenses for different inventions.

Many of the community partners with UCI Applied Innovation have offices within The Cove, which allows them to build partnerships and connections to other partners in the same location. Currently, there are a total of 40 groups and programs that are available throughout The Cove ecosystem. Some of these groups are focused on connecting employers and academic institutions with entrepreneurial opportunities, while others accelerate economic growth and sustainability through innovation.

While the innovators and entrepreneurs within this ecosystem want to help each other build their ideas and businesses, the main goal of The Cove is to help Orange County become globally-recognized for scalable innovation.

While the office space and technological facilities at The Cove help facilitate business connections, additional events are held there on a regular basis to assist the entrepreneurs with reaching their goals. One such event that's going to be held at The Cove in early March is OCTANe Coffee*, which is a small workshop that's primarily meant to be focused on ethics, laws, and privacy. An experienced lawyer will discuss how to implement these considerations into the startup phase of a business. 

*Event expired, here is the link to the Events page of UCI instead. 

UCI Applied Innovation Events

UCI Applied Innovation aims to connect entrepreneurs and startups with events and workshops that educate, facilitate learning, and foster both development and growth. These events and workshops cover a wide array of different subjects that can be useful for a growing company or an aspiring entrepreneur.

While entrepreneurs typically have some idea on how to build a business, these workshops can help you and other entrepreneurs see things from a different angle, which can be largely beneficial in building a successful business. It's all too easy to become laser focused on growing a certain aspect of your business that you overlook another area or weakness that your business might have.

There are a variety of popular events hosted by UCI Applied Innovation, the primary of which include such events as 1 Million Cups and Lunch & Learn. The Lunch & Learn event is held on a bi-monthly basis and aims to provide attendees with a casual setting where they can learn from the special guest.

These events are completely free and open to the public. They focus on a wide range of subjects that include creating the perfect business pitch and determining if your brand needs a "health" checkup. The 1 Million Cups event is a weekly event that takes place over an hour on Wednesday evenings wherein two early stage entrepreneurs and startups present their concepts or businesses to a large audience. The audience then gives feedback and suggestions over the final 20 minutes of the event. This event is beneficial for audience members as well as the entrepreneurs on stage.


UCI Applied Innovation maintains a substantial impact on the students and local entrepreneurial community of Orange County. Through educational programs, funding opportunities and networking events -- UCI Applied Innovation is leading Orange County and UC Irvine into a landmark success for technological innovation and entrepreneurship.


Revised 11/18/2020


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