The National Science Foundation (NSF) is providing a multi-million dollar grant to create an innovation hub uniting public and private universities and research institutions throughout Southern California.
The new hub, or node, is an expansion of NSF’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) initiative to boost innovation and tech start-ups across the U.S. The Southern California Node will be headquartered at and administered by the University of Southern California, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the University of California Los Angeles.
“With the largest number of talented engineers graduating from Southern California institutions than from any other geographic region in the nation, the conditions are just ripe for this creative transformation for the benefit of the region and the nation overall,” says Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering and principal investigator of the grant.
According to Andrea Belz, an academic director at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC Marshall and director of the Southern California Node, the grant money from NSF “will strongly accelerate the growth of the study and practice of entrepreneurship and innovation management throughout [the region].”
Pramod Khargonekar, assistant director of NSF’s Directorate for Engineering at NSF which oversees the I-Corps program, expects the Southern California Node “will draw upon the deep wellspring of talented people in that region, strengthening an already robust national innovation network.”
In parallel with the development of the Southern California Node, NSF has provided a $3.75 million grant to establish another Node comprising three universities in Texas — Rice University, the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, and Texas A&M University.
Juan Sanchez, vice president for research at UT, comments, “having an I-Corps Node established in Texas represents a unique opportunity for researchers and institutions across the state and region to leverage existing research efforts into new business initiatives that will benefit society at large.” Other I-Corps Nodes exist in the Bay Area, New York City, Washington D.C., Georgia, and Michigan.
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