Inclusive Innovation Tackling Some of the World's Most Pressing Issues
In my current roles as Director of the Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars as well as QB3 Entrepreneur in Residence and Rachel Carson College Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, I focus on technologies and ventures tackling environmental, health, and social issues.
Through the Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars, my team and I nurture diverse, next-generation founders and ventures by providing them with funding, mentorship, access to support networks and more. We support deep tech and digital tech ventures for shared prosperity. Learn more about the changes I'm advocating for and witnessing in this space, as discussed in a recent conversation with Fast Company and other colleagues from a number of industries.
As a UCSC Lecturer and Entrepreneur in Residence, I foster inclusive & mission-driven entrepreneurship through curricular and co-curricular opportunities. I have taught entrepreneurship and sustainability innovation courses, and currently teach "Hacking for Oceans", a first course of its kind launched as part of the "Hacking for" series hosted at Stanford and at the University of California, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and San Diego, which applies the lean startup methodology to real world problems in specific areas of research excellence in each campus. Hacking for Oceans is now offered to all UC students as a UC system-wide online course, and is also available to the campuses in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Seven UC campuses have been ranked by Pitchbook among the top 100 colleges by startup founders globally and, tapping on such a trend, we aim to grow the number of diverse entrepreneurs in tech, biotech, climate tech, deep tech, and more.
I also serve as Entrepreneur in Residence with QB3, the University of California’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the life sciences. With five incubators, two seed-stage venture capital firms, and the Rosenman Institute at UC San Francisco, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz, QB3 helps UC faculty & students to launch biotech companies for human and planet health, generating jobs and more than $750 million each year. As EIR, I mentor faculty & student innovators, and help forge new collaborations across the three QB3 campuses.
Moreover, I've been named a member of the UC Office of the President's Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, which is aimed at enabling the UC system to continue creating bold solutions to today’s biggest challenges through innovation and entrepreneurship.
To conclude, I've trained as well as funded academic entrepreneurs through the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps (I-Corps), a program aimed at bringing more scientific research-based innovations to market. Innovation Corps is experiential and project-based, allowing teams of professors and students to develop early-stage ideas and to launch new ventures and innovations. Thanks to the generous funding made available by the NSF, my colleagues and I select and fund promising I-Corps ventures -- many of them end up applying for additional NSF funding later on. Among the successful NSF-funded startups that I often refer to when working with I-Corps teams is Cruz Foam, which also raised capital from Leo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher, among other top tech investors in the US.