Entrepreneurs and Engineers Unite for Innovation

July 17, 2017
by Hallie Jacobs

Engineers and entrepreneurs work together to solve problems, but oftentimes there is a divide between the two schools on university campuses. Seeing the need to bring the collaboration between engineering and business to the startup realm, the Rady School of Management and the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego launched the Institute for the Global Entrepreneur (IGE).

The Institute for the Global Entrepreneur, which launched last year, links the Jacobs School of Engineering and Rady School of Management through the Rady School’s Lab to Market core sequence, which challenges students to build a business around a real technological innovation.

“We are forging new paths with the Technology Management and Entrepreneurism Fellowship Program and continuing to deliver on our promise to impact the innovation economy,” said Rady School Dean Robert S. Sullivan. “The combination of our two world-class schools puts us in a position to do what no other institution has been able to accomplish.”

Since its inception, 17 engineering students have completed the inaugural course. Teams that have gone through the program have found success, such as obtaining funding, winning pitch challenges and receiving recognition at competitions around the country.

A shining example of the success of the program? South 8 Technologies, an endeavor launched at UC San Diego that features team members from both the Jacobs and Rady Schools. The company – which developed a breakthrough chemistry for batteries, allowing them to increase energy density at lower temperatures without compromising power – recently won first place at UC San Diego’s illustrious Entrepreneur Challenge. Additionally, the team will head to the National Clean Tech Business Plan Competition later this month hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy.

"The classes taught us how to better pitch our tech to business people," said Jungwoo Lee, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and member of South 8 Technologies. "As engineers, we often describe a technological advance as something that's X percentage better than Y. But to succeed in the business world, we need to describe our tech as something that results in greater value to the customer — something that is worth replacing the existing product."

Students and recent alumni enjoyed working with Jacobs School of Engineering students because the collaboration opened their eyes to new possibilities and problem-solving strategies. Recent Rady School graduate Lloyd Hinostroza (MBA ’17) shared why he believed the program was beneficial.

“Without IGE I would have been unaware of the exciting work being done at the Jacob’s School that is being brought to the marketplace,” Hinostroza said. “And more importantly, I would not have had the opportunity to meet and work with the great research teams working on being the next market disruptors.”

Rini Abraham (MBA ’17) echoed the statement.

“I think this is a great option and would highly recommend future Rady students to actively seek IGE students and work with them,” she said. “Lab to Market serves as a great avenue to build the relationship between engineers and business students. This positive work environment is critical and I think it has given us a strong foundation for our careers.”

The overwhelming success of first group of IGE students has set the stage for the program to continue. 

“The IGE partnership was built to bridge the gap and celebrate the strengths of both schools while working together to solve pressing issues,” said Sullivan. “The IGE students have proven that greater success can be accomplished when business acumen is combined with engineering skills.”

 

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