U.S. Department of Energy Awards $1.05 Million Grant to Rady School and the Jacobs School

Lada Rasochova

The Rady School of Management and the William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at the Jacobs School of Engineering will work to accelerate the transfer of energy efficiency and renewable energy innovations from university laboratories into the marketplace under a new three-year, $1.05 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Rady School and von Liebig Center (in partnership with San Diego State University) will hold a series of Regional Energy Innovation Challenges, providing fellowships and mentoring support for students and faculty working on promising technologies. Innovator teams comprised of experienced advisers, faculty, science and engineering students and MBA students from both universities� campuses will collaborate to develop and execute commercialization plans. A virtual network will connect innovators, students, entrepreneurs and sources of capital to each other and to other initiatives within the clean-energy space on campus, in the region and worldwide.

At the Rady School, the grant will fund a new MBA-in-residence program. This program will award fellowships to MBA students who help engineers and scientists identify commercially viable technologies and who develop commercialization plans to help them succeed. The program is part of an expanding number of Rady School initiatives focused on bringing innovation to the marketplace. These include the school’s signature course series, Lab to Market, which teaches students how to launch ideas into viable businesses; the Rady Venture Fund, which challenges students to evaluate and invest in promising new companies; and a partnership with the incubator EvoNexus, which allows students to evaluate and assist technology startups.

“This grant will allow MBA students to gain experience recognizing commercially viable clean technologies and in turn, address environmental concerns,” said Rady School Dean Robert S. Sullivan. “Enriching our students’ ability to commercialize new technologies will advance our mission of preparing students to create and to lead innovation-driven organizations.”

Lada Rasochova, who helps to manage entrepreneurship programs including the Rady Venture Fund at the Rady School, is the co-principal investigator for the grant program.

“MBA students play an important role in the development of this new program. Bringing business expertise into the commercialization process early is crucial to identify promising technologies and make them successful in the marketplace,” Rasochova said. “Rady MBAs are particularly well suited for these tasks because many have advanced degrees in science and engineering, they have worked in these fields and they are developing the business acumen necessary to guide these new technologies.”

This grant is part of a larger project undertaken by the U.S. Department of Energy. The department awarded $5.3 million to five innovation ecosystem projects across the country. They will be led by universities or nonprofits based in five states, and include universities, businesses, government, research institutes, economic development organizations, accelerators and national laboratories. The grant recipients were selected based on one or more of the following objectives: nurturing and mentoring entrepreneurs; pursuing intellectual property protection for technological innovations; engaging the surrounding business and venture capital community; or integrating sustainable entrepreneurship and innovation across university schools and departments.