UC Provides Millions to Invest in Student Innovation

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The University of California will begin to directly invest in the innovation of its students and faculty by anchoring a venture fund led by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé.

The fund will consist of a $250 million contribution from the UC, along with Ranadivé’s pledge of an additional 5 percent of the total capital raised by outside investors. The UC’s investment won’t be comprised of tuition or state funding and is from the UC’s $98.2 billion investment fund.

Originally called “UC Ventures,” though the current name is still being decided on, the fund will provide capital for innovation in areas such as life sciences, information technology, energy, agriculture and material sciences, among others. The UC Board of Regents approved the concept for this type of fund in September 2014.

Ranadivé is the founder of several fast data companies including Teknekron Software Systems and TIBCO, and is the current owner of the Sacramento Kings. According to UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher, Ranadivé was chosen as the leader of this venture fund because his values and investment beliefs aligned with the UC’s.

“This is really just a continuation of our investments in venture capital but doing it in a way where we can leverage a competitive advantage that we have, which is the UC ecosystem of ideas —and that’s really the unique angle,” Bachher said in a phone press conference.

Both UC President Janet Napolitano and Ranadivé spoke during a phone press conference about how the mission of the fund is to invest in companies that will ultimately benefit society in the United States and the rest of the world. According to the UC, more than 800 start-ups have originated in the UC system alone.

It has not yet been announced when the funds will be available for students and faculty to begin applying for.