By Peter Bell
A game changing opportunity for Davis resides with the “crowd” of 60,000 Davis residents, 25,000 U.C. Davis staff and faculty, plus the 225,000 U.C. Davis alumni. This crowd could pool its capital by allocating as little as $1,000 of their retirement IRA’s, 401K’s or 403’s to backing start-ups coming out of Davis due to the new crowdfunding provisions of the JOBS Act.
The Davis Funding Club’s mission is to be at the vanguard of the big change coming to the start-up ecosystem where everyone, no matter their income or net worth can now invest as little as $100 in start-ups due to the JOBS Act of 2012 that comes into full effect on May 16th, 2016.
This crowdfunded pool of capital would represent more than $300 million dollars of investable capital and potentially could seed 1,000 start-ups with the funding they need to launch their ventures. These 1,000 new start-up companies could generate over 4,000 local jobs in Davis and could very quickly fill up the proposed R&D space at the Nichi property for example.
This seed capital pool would transform the U.C. Davis’ technology transfer process as it could bring all the new technology currently residing in the university’s laboratories more rapidly to the market place and so greatly benefit all of society for the better.
The Davis Funding Club is the first pillar on what we hope will become “The Technology Transfer Framework”, which is an initiative that is designed to dramatically accelerate the pace of U.C Davis technology transfer and begin the process of reversing our societies’ declining rate of innovation.
The overall goal of the Technology Transfer Framework is to form start-up companies to commercialize U.C. Davis technology and incubate them in local Davis technology parks like the proposed Nishi property. If these companies grow and require manufacturing capability, they can transfer to local Davis manufacturing parks like the on-hold Mace Ranch. Once these companies grow into behemoths, they can transfer to west Sacramento and become globally successful organizations, with all the room they need to grow.
The 30,000 students attending U.C. Davis represent some of the brightest and most talented people in the country. After graduation, rather than staying in Davis and potentially starting their careers locally, most of these students leave Davis for all corners of the world. Instead of seeing student graduation as the end of their time at the university and relationship with the town of Davis, we should view this as just the beginning of their relationship with our magic little town of Davis by offering them the opportunity to work in our local start-ups.
Technology Transfer Framework Goals
The goal of the “Technology Transfer Framework” would be to develop a technology transfer model from gown to town that accelerates the pace of innovation. Adopting this R&D financing model will accelerate the rate of new discoveries, up from the current rate that is the equivalent to the rate of innovation last seen in the 1850’s.
Accelerating the rate of technology commercialization of university developed technologies could revert society’s introduction of new innovations back up to the levels achieved in the 1950’s and potentially beyond, which has the potential to transform and dramatically improve life in Davis for all of its citizens.
Why is this important?
Peter Thiel sums up our societies’ declining rate of innovation most succinctly by saying:
“what we wanted was flying cars, space travel and a long, healthy old age…
…what we got was 144 characters to Twitter with”.
Adopting the ideas represented by the “Technology Transfer Framework”, has the potential to change the world in ways we are unable to imagine at this moment as most of the technologies our society wants and needs are yet to be discovered. However, if we adopt the proposed “Technology Transfer Framework” we might see a flying car in our very near future… even Peter Thiel would give a big Facebook thumbs up “like” to that.
4 Pillars of the Technology Transfer Framework
The Technology Transfer Framework consists of 4 pillars or founding principles:
- Form early stage capital to finance the launch of new Start-Up companies commercializing U.C. Davis technology through a crowd funding platform comprised of the university faculty, staff, students and alumni, complemented by local, Davis residents and business owners.
- Foster the local U.C. Davis technology commercialization ecosystem by building a large technology transfer incubator AND Start-Up accelerator facility, plus the associated R&D facilities for these technologies to be brought to life on R&D parks like the Nishi property.
- Assemble ad-hoc, multi-disciplined, commercialization teams drawn from the business school and other innovative student populations on campus to “mine” the faculty’s laboratories across the entire U.C. Davis campus to find the technology “nuggets” currently lying undiscovered, yet highly suitable for commercialization.
- Adjust the faculty compensation structure to reward technology commercialization and incentivize the acceleration of the rate of technology transfer at U.C. Davis.
The “Technology Transfer Framework” could have two profound impacts:
- The Technology Transfer Framework has the potential to double the amount of total R&D funding available for U.C. Davis faculty to work with from $780 million to $1.5 billion annually by 2030, positively transforming the sheer volume of R&D taking place on the U.C. Davis campus.
- The Technology Transfer Framework has the potential to dramatically increase the amount of “unencumbered” funding available to U.C. Davis faculty. These funds will free up faculty so that they can pursue more “Blue Sky” kinds of research projects rather than the incremental types of research that are typically funded by outside grant sources or corporations.
These two impacts would transform the type of R&D taking place on the U.C. Davis campus, dramatically increasing the rate at which the U.C. Davis faculty can innovate and expand mankind’s knowledge base for all of society’s benefit.
Peter Bell is Curator of Start-Ups for the Davis Funding Club – http://www.davisfundingclub.com
Editor’s note: following the decision by Mace Ranch Innovation Center to put its pending project on hold, the Vanguard decided to re-start a community discussion on the future of economic development in Davis. As such, we are reaching out to a very diverse group of people and starting May 1 we are hoping to publish one op-ed a day on this subject. We are pleased to announce that so far we have over 40 commitments and counting. Beginning today, we will publish one article per day for the month of May into June. If you would like to add your voice – please submit your piece on the future of economic development in Davis (800 to 1000 words).
May 1: Robb Davis
May 2: Elaine Roberts Musser
May 3: Dan Carson
May 4: Matt Williams