UCLA Launches Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program Today

Carlin Sack

UCLA’s Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Sponsored Research is piloting an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program, which will be launching at 4 p.m. today at California Nanosystems Institute.

The event, which is open to all members of File 26339the extended UCLA community and the LA entrepreneurial community, will include an introduction of the program’s first class of EIRs: Debra Gessner, formerly of Tocagen, Inc.; John Gillespie, formerly of the Mentor Network; Kevin Stark, formerly of Amgen; and Sandra Itkoff, formerly of BYD America(pictured clockwise from top left). There will also be a panel discussion with a networking reception following.

The EIR program emerged out of the voiced need for more interaction between entrepreneurs with commercial experience and faculty and graduate students with research experience, Thomas Lipkin, Assistant Director of Entrepreneurship and New Ventures at UCLA’s Office of Intellectual Property, said.

“We sought to address the need for industry input through developing a structured program for entrepreneurs in the community to work with our researchers and provide impactful feedback and guidance,” Lipkin said.            

Home to over 100 startups, UCLA is already widely-recognized for its entrepreneurial environment: Forbes named UCLA as the eighth most entrepreneurial college in the country last year.

The EIR program will build upon UCLA’s entrepreneurial success “by getting some of the great ideas and products being developed at UCLA out into the marketplace sooner and in a way that increases their chance of success,” Gillespie said.

The four EIRs will be available to advise UCLA postdocs, graduate students at faculty during office hours and by appointment (which can be scheduled by emailing thomas.lipkin@research.ucla.edu). Lipkin said the EIRs will be working at least one day per week and will be providing their guidance free of charge to the university.

In his role as an EIR, Gillespie said he is excited to use his experience in investment banking, high growth business management, angel investing and startups to benefit the UCLA community.

“The EIRs would like to help kick off a more intensive involvement between UCLA entrepreneurs and the LA startup community,” Gillespie said. “The launch of the EIR program on Thursday will give a great opportunity to describe what we're hoping to accomplish and to begin a dialogue with the startup community on the resources currently available and how they can evolve in the future.”

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