Launch party for the Anderson Venture Accelerator.
Entrepreneurship is an essential part of the UCLA Anderson DNA.
It’s a school named for a successful entrepreneur, John E. Anderson; with a building called Entrepreneurs Hall; which houses the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; with the oldest business plan competition in the nation, the Knapp Venture Competition; a school that, now, in its world-class Rosenfeld Library, houses the state-of-the-art 10,000-square-foot Anderson Venture Accelerator.
The Anderson Venture Accelerator, which launched Jan. 25, will become an integral part of UCLA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, creating a communal space for the university’s numerous schools — professional and undergraduate — to come together and develop world-changing ideas.
“UCLA Anderson is delighted to see the realization of this exciting living lab to further enhance the UCLA entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said UCLA Anderson Dean Judy Olian. “The UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator offers students and researchers an environment that triggers innovation and breakthrough ventures. It brings together students and faculty from across UCLA, including the health and computer sciences, engineering, and the humanities to develop new ventures.”
The space, which is located on the first floor of the Rosenfeld Library at UCLA Anderson School of Management, will be open to Anderson MBA candidates, as well as to undergraduates and graduate students from other schools on campus, and to faculty researchers. With co-working space for 45 people, a presentation area with the latest audio/video capability, and access to Anderson’s research librarians as well as guest speakers, topical seminars and “demo days” for resident companies, Anderson students will have the opportunity to seek out new ideas across campus, create and grow their own opportunities and develop the skills necessary to create and expand their businesses.
“It’s not common for universities in the United States to have their different schools all physically located so close together and to have such easy access for faculty, researchers and students across them all to interact,” said Elaine Hagan, executive director of the Price Center. “It allows for interesting collaborations across departments to occur. And solutions to the world’s problems are often at the intersection of departments.”
“We want to be a service to the whole campus, and we’re starting right here in our own backyard,” said Al Osborne, Jr., senior associate dean and professor of global economics, management and entrepreneurship. “At UCLA, there’s over $1 billion spent on research every year, and a lot of that research increasingly involves intellectual capital that can be exploited for those inventors. The accelerator represents an opportunity to pull those silos together here at the Anderson School.”
The ideal collaboration, Hagan and Osborne agree, would involve established researchers from the sciences, or creative undergraduates teaming with business students and professionals to commercialize the kinds of technologies that save lives or advance access to crucial information.
Just build it
Osborne said Anderson’s new accelerator takes a history of entrepreneurial focus and fits it in perfectly with 21st-century MBAs by offering the ideal environment for the active learning that is compatible with the curriculum.
In fact, Hagan said the new facility shows Anderson’s dedication to its students and the entire UCLA campus, as well as a commitment to the learning and practice of entrepreneurship. At the same time, she said Anderson’s accelerator has slightly different goals than incubators at other universities. “We’re taking students through the entrepreneurial experience so they can understand if it’s right for them,” she said. “We’re helping them decide what role they would like to fill or whether or not they like collaborating. There’s an opportunity to learn about themselves.”
As part of that educational and personal journey, as well as Anderson’s commitment to learning while doing, Osborne said the accelerator’s work will reach far beyond campus. “It’s a highly visible sign of Anderson’s commitment to active learning. But, more important, it supports the involvement of our students in seeking and bringing ideas that are of social value to the forefront.”
Under the oversight of the Price Center, programs will complement the center’s entrepreneurial curriculum. The accelerator’s director, entrepreneurs-in-residence, faculty members and other mentors will share their business development experience and well-developed networks in the entrepreneurial and early-stage investing communities. Mentors have been chosen based upon positive outlook, an entrepreneurial spirit and a track record of academic and professional achievement as executives, entrepreneurs and/or early-stage investors and advisors.
Most important, perhaps, the Anderson Venture Accelerator has been specifically designed to foster a sense of community among UCLA entrepreneurs engaged in the venture initiation process.
Los Angeles is home to the third-largest and fastest-growing technology ecosystem in the United States, and that ecosystem both supports and seeks students well-versed in entrepreneurial culture. The Anderson accelerator will be a giant piece in that startup puzzle. “It’s good for us and for the campus,” says Hagan. “It will be a great resource for the business community to seek out students who are passionate about entrepreneurship.”
Working toward that goal will require a cross-campus commitment to growth, and it will also represent a hands-on opportunity for Anderson alumni to further the school’s mission and, perhaps, become mentors themselves as well as provide financial support. “The Executive MBA Class of 2014 made support of the accelerator initiative part of the larger goals for their class gift,” Hagan said. “They also volunteered to help as mentors, and, given that they are executive MBAs, they have a wide range of skills and knowledge to contribute.”
For his part, Osborne says the Anderson Venture Accelerator, in both practice and essence, perfectly encapsulates all that he’s worked for at Anderson — from his earlier days studying venture capital and private equity to being selected one of the top 15 best entrepreneurial teachers in the nation to creating one of the country’s premier centers for entrepreneurial studies. “Part of my joy is watching students develop and working with students who have a vision of a better future,” he says. “I am delighted to see the world and our enterprise become a little better than when I came here.”
The Anderson Venture Accelerator launch is sponsored by Cadillac, which is presenting Cadillac Dare Greatly Awards of $10,000 to three outstanding entrepreneurial ventures founded by members of the UCLA community:
- Alumni Leo Petrossian, Dan Hanchey and Robert Hamilton for Neural Analytics
- Current Global EMBA student Rob Douk for Behavioral Healthworks Inc.
- Undergraduates Layne Haber and Mykolas Marcinkevicius for Arctica
This story has been adapted from a post on the UCLA Anderson blog.