President Janet Napolitano has rescinded a 1989 policy barring the University of California from investing in companies that commercialize technology based on UC research.
In conjunction with the change, she OK’d a pilot project allowing campuses to accept equity in startup companies in exchange for university services, like business incubators, rather than charging fees.
Napolitano also announced last week that the university would form a new “UC Innovation Council” made up of business executives, venture capitalists, technology experts and others which will “support the university’s many efforts in technology commercialization,” according to a news release. The advisory group will meet for the first time next month.
A systemwide working group earlier recommended revisions that UC should make to better support research and reflect current practices across the system.
“These measures are key to supporting and expanding the entrepreneurial culture on our campuses, and enhancing the innovation ecosystem at the University of California,” Napolitano said. “The technology and companies incubated at UC have a direct and critical impact on the state’s economic growth, and our continued support is integral to our university’s public mission.”
UC still lacks a formal policy on accepting equity. The pilot project will provide an opportunity to forge a framework “consistent with UC governance and risk-management strategies,” according to UC.