Inclusive Innovation Tackling Some of the World's Most Pressing Issues

In my current roles as QB3 Entrepreneur in Residence as well as Director of the Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars 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 next-generation founders, innovations, and ventures by providing them with funding, mentorship, access to support networks and more. We focus on science-based, AI, and digital technologies and 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 Rachel Carson Lecturer, I foster inclusive and mission-driven entrepreneurship by teaching human-centered design and entrepreneurship for sustainability and planet health at UCSC, and "Hacking for Oceans", a new course 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 launchpad methodology to real world problems in specific areas of research excellence in each campus. Hacking for Oceans will be offered to all UC students as a UC system-wide course starting from 2023. 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 climate tech.

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 bringing more than $750 million into the Bay Area each year. I'm currently a member of the strategic planning team that is designing and launching the new QB3 Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley campus programs.

One of my other responsibilities is to serve as 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. And many of them end up applying for additional NSF funding too. Among the successful NSF-funded startups that I often refer to when working with I-Corps teams is Cruz Foam, which upon successful NSF-funded developments was later funded by Leo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher, among other top tech investors.