SoCal Innovation at the Universities

SoCal Innovation at the Universities

As young entrepreneurs in Los Angeles’ tech community continue to grab headlines with their multimillion-dollar companies, universities in Southern California are creating programs that cater to the new American Dream: launch a startup, disrupt an industry, change the world.

In the past two years, new business “incubators” have popped up at UCLA, USC, Loyola Marymount University, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and, most recently, Cal State Northridge, which officially launched its own Tuesday.

Incubators and “accelerators” are short-term programs meant to help young startups grow into profitable companies. They typically provide office space, mentoring, legal advice and access to venture capitalists looking to invest in the next big thing.

The University of California system announced Monday that it plans to launch a $250 million venture capital fund, UC Ventures, to help commercialize the research and innovation coming out of its 10 campuses. The venture will fund startups that emerge from the UC system’s 20 incubator and accelerator programs, five medical schools and three national research laboratories.

Pay-as-you-go software, Web services and off-the-shelf digital tools have helped reduce the upfront cost of starting an Internet-based company. A website that used to cost millions of dollars in the 1990s can now be built for as little as $50,000, said David Choi, director of LMU’s Business Incubator, which started in 2012.

As financial barriers of entry have dissolved, a thriving tech ecosystem on L.A.’s Westside — an area known as Silicon Beach — has increased demand for


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