UC launches $250-million fund to invest in university innovation projects

For years, some of the University of California’s brightest minds have turned to Silicon Valley to get their projects funded.

Now, they may not have to go so far.

UC officials announced Tuesday the launch of a $250-million venture fund led by entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé that will invest in innovation from the UC ecosystem.

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The fund, yet to be named, will invest across multiple disciplines, such as life sciences, technology, energy, agriculture and materials.

UC President Janet Napolitano said on a conference call announcing the fund that UC has consistently produced world-class researchers and entrepreneurs. Until now, though, the university hasn’t taken full advantage of this.

“What we have not had consistently is the ability to accelerate and expand into the marketplace the ideas and research that is undertaken in our laboratories by our students and faculty,” Napolitano said. “They’ve had to go out on their own and find capital, or not. I’d venture to say some haven’t been able to do that.

“What we’re trying to do is leverage all the resources at our command and focus them on the future.”

The university will anchor the fund with a $250-million investment and also will seek outside contributions.

Ranadivé, best known as the founder and former chief executive of real-time computing company TIBCO, and current owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings, will contribute 5% of the total fund.

According to Ranadivé, the fund will have a presence “all over the state,” with Ranadivé himself working from Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley.

Twitter: @traceylien

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