Policies and Guidelines
So you’ve made a discovery that you think has some commercial potential, and you’re ready for the next step. That’s exactly where the Innovation District can assist, including helping you understand the policy landscape and connecting you with UGA commercialization resources.
There are essentially two pathways for research commercialization: traditional technology transfer or starting your own company. Innovation Gateway in the Office of Research maintains a terrific researcher’s guide to intellectual property and commercialization to help you navigate the journey. The guide is intended to help you jump straight to the most relevant information for your objective, identify relevant policies, and point you to the right person to answer your questions.
Programs for Faculty
Training and Development
The Faculty Innovation Fellows program is designed to support faculty who want to engage in commercialization and product development, with a focus toward fine-tuning their research programs to align with industry and market needs.
Innovation Bootcamp is a six-week intensive program. It delivers focused training to equip faculty, graduate students, and post-doc fellows with the key skills to thrive in an innovative, entrepreneurial environment. This program has a flexible framework that can be tailored to the needs of a specific cohort. For example, the first boot camp addressed the unique challenges faced by female entrepreneurs.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) is a public–private partnership that helps develop scientific and engineering discoveries into useful technologies. The program connects academic researchers and students with the technological, entrepreneurial, and business communities at the local level.
After completing I-Corps, UGA startups can enroll in Innovation Gateway’s three-part business toolkit that will provide the basic skills to succeed in the early stages of a startup company. Topics covered include general business skills and regulatory environments; finances, funding strategies and legal concerns; and team building and conflicts of interest.
David Salyers, the co-founder of several startups and nonprofits and former marketing executive at Chick-fil-A, is UGA’s first Startup Mentor in Residence. The Startup Mentor acts as a champion for innovation and entrepreneurship at UGA. He speaks and meets with faculty and students on campus to provide expertise, new insights, and encouragement for those looking to start new businesses and nonprofit ventures or otherwise commercialize their inventions and ideas.
Service and Support
Innovation Gateway maximizes the impact of UGA research discoveries by streamlining the path from the laboratory or field to the marketplace. Through intellectual property protection, licensing, startup support and education, IG works with UGA faculty and researchers in order to identify technologies and companies with commercial potential.
The UGA Startup Program provides faculty and students with support to launch and grow startup companies. The program is designed as a flexible and tailored approach to each entrepreneurial project to provide actionable steps that have proven to result in successful companies and experiences.
Student Experiential Learning
The Arts Career and Entrepreneurship Space (ACES), jointly supported by the Lamar Dodd School of Art and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, provides comprehensive career support for students seeking a future in music and/or art/design by identifying professional objectives and presenting in various opportunities for industry development.
The UGA Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, housed in the Terry College of Business, provides a unique and comprehensive academic program that encompasses experiential learning and equips students with the tools and resources to pursue their own start-up ventures.
FABricate is both a contest and a course for students to expand their leadership and business skills while developing an idea for a new food product, agricultural business, or environmental opportunity.
The New Media Institute (NMI) is an interdisciplinary academic unit dedicated to exploring emerging technologies. Its curriculum focuses on critical investigations into the constantly changing media landscape, the development of skills to build commercial products, and the creation of projects that use new media solutions to address real-world problems.
Innovation at Work
Jenay Beer, assistant professor in the Institute of Gerontology with a joint appointment in the College of Public Health and the School of Social Work, was one of UGA’s inaugural Innovation Fellows. The Innovation Fellows program helps talented faculty find ways to translate their ideas into solutions and products that will improve lives and communities.
Beer designs assistive technologies for older adults that can help them manage life and health transitions as they age. Such technologies could include assistive robots, personal monitoring or communication systems, or other innovations.
During her fall 2019 appointment as an Innovation Fellow, Beer received personalized coaching from the team the UGA Startup Program and $10,000 to support customer discovery and facilitate connections with industry partners.
At the end of the program, Beer said she was eager to serve as an informal ambassador for the Innovation District and UGA’s innovation-related programs back in her department. “I’ve learned such a useful and diverse set of skills. Without a doubt, I would not have gained this knowledge on my own, and I’m already applying it every day. This experience has me completely rethinking my entire research program.”
Candidus, co-founded by Marc van Iersel (the Vincent J. Dooley Professor of Horticulture) and doctoral graduate Erico Mattos, is a startup offering customized lighting solutions for greenhouse agriculture. Mattos and van Iersel created specialized monitoring systems that give plants just the right amount of light to grow—day and night, rain or shine.
The idea started in the lab and, as van Iersel put it, could have been “a really cool idea and a bunch of academic papers.” Instead, they decided to pursue the marketability of their academic work. They turned UGA’s Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, program, which prompted them to reach out to potential customers and figure out a revenue model and business plan.
“It was the exercise of making a hypothesis, getting feedback, validating, and then repeating,” says Mattos. “I-Corps didn’t provide the answers. It helped us ask the right questions.”
Since then, Candidus has won funding from the Georgia Research Alliance and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for project development and commercialization. Mattos has been testing the system with a handful of Georgia growers, and Candidus is poised to offer its services to a broader market.