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UC Davis program opens headquarters with two Davis startups

April 30, 2012

Two men standing behind a Davis Roots sign with a old mansion in the background

Local entrepreneur Anthony Costello, left, and GSM Professor Andrew Hargadon help dedicate the new Davis Roots, a nonprofit business accelerator bridging the city of Davis and UC Davis. Davis Roots is located at the historic Hunt-Boyer Mansion. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)

Davis Roots, a recently formed nonprofit business accelerator bridging the city of Davis and the University of California, Davis, officially opens its headquarters at the historic Hunt-Boyer Mansion today. The enterprise is geared toward supporting startup companies to succeed and stay in the city, with two companies ready to move in.

Davis Roots was founded by Andrew Hargadon, director of the UC Davis Child Family Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, and Anthony Costello, a founder of several successful startups and former chair of the city’s Business and Economic Development Commission.

“We have the shared goal of fostering the formation and early development of new high-growth ventures in Davis,” said Hargadon, who holds the Charles J. Soderquist Chair in Entrepreneurship at the management school. “We hope to eventually bring many more companies into this facility.”

The first two companies are:

  • Barobo, a UC Davis spin-off that is building programmable robotics for the education and consumer markets; Barobo robots are simple enough to enable robotics to be taught to elementary school children.
  • Nuritas, launched by UC Davis post-doctoral student Nora Khaldi, who has developed a proprietary bioinformatics tool for discovering ”nutriceuticals,” or food components that affect health.

The founders of both companies are recent graduates of the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's Entrepreneurship Academy programs.

“Davis Roots is an example of the kind of partnership both parties need – the city so it can tap more directly into the research and innovation so prevalent on our campus, and the university so our students and faculty have another vehicle to help cultivate their commercial ideas and vision,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

“We each know how important it is to have an environment that supports and nurtures innovation so we can improve the lives of our residents and create new jobs and commercial ventures and partnerships,” she said.

The new headquarters has room for four to six more companies to move in during the next few months, and eventually, eight to 10 tenants in total. Davis Roots is leasing the space from the city.

“Davis Roots represents an exciting collaboration between the City of Davis and the entrepreneurial community,” said Rochelle Swanson, Davis mayor pro tem.  “This is just the start of a new type of economic development for our city, focusing on home-grown startups and university spin-offs.  The emphasis will be on innovation and creativity and the creation of new businesses and jobs.”

Hargadon added: “This partnership allows Davis Roots participants access to UC Davis’ entrepreneurship curriculum and to a broad network of mentors and potential investors, as well as entrepreneurs and emerging technologies from within UC Davis.”

Emerging ventures  apply for and are selected first into the Davis Roots mentoring program, where they gain access to a network of experienced entrepreneurs, investors, patent and corporate lawyers and are supported in preparing a more detailed nine-month launch strategy, which includes a business plan, fundraising goals and project milestones.

Upon acceptance, new ventures are given office space within Davis Roots. Those that successfully grow and raise external funds  receive assistance, as well, finding Davis office space to continue their growth in town. Those that are unsuccessful at meeting milestones or raising funds relinquish their Davis Roots space to new ventures.

Davis Roots is currently fundraising to sustain and grow its operations. 

“The most important part was getting the space, and now—with that space—we are turning to the fundraising,” Hargadon said.  He added that Davis Roots will take a small equity investment in each accepted venture. In this way, those ventures that ultimately succeed return value to the nonprofit, to support future ventures and the City of Davis.

Katehi has called for increased collaboration between the UC Davis campus and the region to bring new ideas to the marketplace, generate jobs and boost the economy.  Recent initiatives include the creation of new “innovation hubs” on campus, aimed at better fostering collaboration among related research units, enhancing interaction with the private sector and accelerating the transfer of UC Davis inventions from the lab to the marketplace. Other examples are the College of Engineering Technology Transfer Center, where faculty establish startup companies in an on-campus incubator; the decision to bring energy-related research units together in a single location at UC Davis West Village, the nation’s largest planned zero net energy community; and the formation of a UC Davis Corporate Relations office to enhance communications among UC Davis and corporate partners.

More about the UC Davis Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: http://gsm.ucdavis.edu/department/child-family-institute-innovation-and-entrepreneurship

More about the UC Davis Graduate School of Management: http://gsm.ucdavis.edu/about-us


About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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