Launchpad offers a boost to innovation

launchpad flier
Jin Zhang
Jin Zhang, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said Launchpad will help to fill the gap between basic research in the lab and development of technology usable in industry.

To help campus innovation take the leap to the market, UC Santa Cruz will offer seed funding to help faculty and students develop prototypes or otherwise advance their technology towards commercial viability.

Launchpad, managed by the Industry Alliances & Technology Commercialization (IATC) Office, will be offering $5,000, $10,000, and $15,000 grants to promising UCSC technologies in science and engineering. Applications will be accepted until Sept. 28.

“Many great ideas never make it to the marketplace because inventors cannot find the initial funding needed to show the proof-of-concept,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Mohamed Abousalem said. “This program will help fill that gap and provide many worthy ideas with the support needed. We are looking for inventions that are on the path for commercialization but just need an initial boost.”

The program will be awarding a total of $100,000 over the next two academic years. Launchpad is part of the Support Program for Long-term Innovation, Commercialization & Entrepreneurship (SPLICE), a multi-faceted UCSC program to help bring research innovations to the marketplace and spur economic development in the Santa Cruz area.

Each of UC's 10 campuses is receiving $2.2 million in one-time state funding to further innovation and entrepreneurship efforts as a result of Assembly Bill 2664, signed in fall 2016 by Gov. Brown. Each campus must provide matching funds from private sources.

The Launchpad program is open to students, faculty, and staff who have created innovative technologies that would have demonstrable economic, environmental and/or societal impact, Abousalem said, adding that the technologies must be formally disclosed and assigned to UC Santa Cruz when the application is submitted.

The funding is meant to help campus innovators overcome specific challenges—increasing the chance of licensing the technology to a for-profit company or establishing a startup company for the purpose of advancing the technology.

Jin Zhang, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said the program will help to fill the gap between basic research in the lab and development of technology usable in industry.

“Launchpad will truly help to push innovative ideas from the research lab to commercial technological applications more quickly,” he said. “For some projects, seed funding can make a huge impact in determining if the ideas can be pushed over the hurdle towards commercialization.”

Other SPLICE initiatives include:

  • support for an off-campus accelerator, Santa Cruz Accelerates;
  • support for an off-campus wet-lab incubator in Santa Cruz, Startup Sandbox ;
  • SVLink, a business incubator at the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus;
  • the IDEA Hub, launched by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development (CIED);
  • a new arts program, Creative Entrepreneurship Internships (CEI), offered by the Arts Division; and
  • another arts program offered by Games and Playable Media in the Arts Division called Games Grant Opportunity (GameGO) supporting the commercialization of outstanding student games.

For questions related to the Launchpad program, please email, or contact Michele Chamberlin at 831-459-4229