UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute Opens Startup “Innovation Space”

The Qualcomm Institute, the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), inaugurated a new “innovation space” Thursday, with enough space to house 15 to 20 seed-stage startups.

The 6,000-square-foot facility on the second floor of the Calit2 headquarters in Atkinson Hall follows the February 6 debut of “The Basement,” a combined incubator and accelerator program for startups in the San Diego campus that is open to all UC San Diego undergraduate students.

Other support for entrepreneurial-minded students can be found at UC San Diego in the Jacobs School of Engineering at The Moxie Center for Student Entrepreneurship and The von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center, and in the Rady School of Management at StartR, a nonprofit accelerator program for business students and alumni. UC San Diego-affiliated entrepreneurs also can seek funding from the Triton Technology Fund, established just over a year ago, and the $250-million UC Ventures Fund, approved in September by the UC Regents.

But the new innovation space at Calit2 is not an incubator, according to Ramesh Rao, director of the Qualcomm Institute, and it’s not limited to only UC San Diego faculty or students.

“We don’t take equity [in startups] and we don’t run mentoring programs,” said Rao, a San Diego Xconomist, during Thursday’s open house. “The real goal is to pump more companies out into the San Diego community.”

The idea for the innovation space, Rao explained, is to provide a facility where a company can connect with the resources available at Calit2 and the UC San Diego campus—including students, scientists, and technologies. The institute offers technical services at the same rates offered to external industry partners.

Pradeep Khosla

Pradeep Khosla

The innovation space also reflects a broader effort by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla to make UC San Diego a centerpiece of the local innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. “We want to be an agent for innovative transformation as well as an agent for economic development,” Khosla said as guests nibbled on appetizers during the open house.

Rao, who refers to the Qualcomm Institute Innovation Space by its acronym, QIIS, says startups admitted to QIIS pay monthly rent that amounts to $3 a square foot. Interested startups must submit an application, and those admitted by an academic committee can lease office space for as long as two years.

Seven tenants already admitted to the space made short presentations Thursday about their technology and startup plans:

Comhear CEO Randy Granovetter is developing speakers and wearable audio products that use beam-forming technology and software to produce an immersive, 360-degree sound for listeners.

Foundation for Learning Equality co-founder Jamie Alexandre said the non-profit foundation has been working with the Kahn Academy and other edutech companies to develop open-source curriculum for the hundreds of millions of children around the world who are unable to attend school.

RAM Photonics president John Marciante said the six-year-old startup is focused on identifying and licensing highly innovative and transformative photonic technologies for use in medical, high-power machining, and communications industries.

Sinopia Biosciences co-founder Aarash Bordbar has been working with UC San Diego professor of Bioengineering Bernhard Palsson to develop analytics technologies for identifying signature characteristics in genomic data that correlate with adverse drug reactions.

STEAM Engine co-founder and Qualcomm Institute research scientist Albert Yu-Min Lin said the company is creating an education technology platform committed to immersive learning, citizen science, and the aggregation of knowledge through game-based simulation.

Technosylva CEO Joaquin Ramirez, a fire prediction expert, has developed technology for geospatial data analysis that can be used by public safety agencies in fighting wildfires.

VirBELA CEO Alex Howland said the startup has developed software that uses simulation and virtual world gaming for executive recruiting and related human resources assessments of job competencies.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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2 responses to “UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute Opens Startup “Innovation Space””

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