UC San Diego: Entrepreneurship Isn’t Genetic—It’s a Mindset

In a bold display of support for cultivating an intrepid mindset across campus, the Entrepreneurship Center, located within the Design and Innovation Building, officially launched last week. The private gathering welcomed students, faculty, university officials and business collaborators to visit with representatives from dozens of companies residing in the building.

UC San Diego’s newest center creates a hub for San Diego’s innovation community by housing an array of regional entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alongside students and faculty with the intent of accelerating the creation and launch of new companies. The center also seeks to create an entrepreneur network and to dispel the notion that entrepreneurship is somehow genetic. The center encourages everyone to explore and act on their ideas to make improvements to the world around them and to collaborate with others who have the skills they lack.

The event also welcomed the newest cohort of professional Entrepreneurs in Residence, a campus-wide program launched in 2015 to support research-based entrepreneurship. The cohort includes a newly established selection of National Security entrepreneurs.

The innovators and “serial” entrepreneurs share their knowledge, provide mentoring, teach workshops and provide opportunities for students to hone their ideas and practical career skills by working and collaborating on projects with established companies and seasoned executives.

Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla called the Entrepreneurship Center “a resource with no boundaries that supports our entire Triton community.”

He explained that entrepreneurial skills—learning to present ideas, persuade listeners and enlist support—are beneficial tools regardless of a student’s major or ultimate career goals.

“People ask why we’re promoting entrepreneurship across all disciplines,” Khosla said. “The answer is that every human being has a use for the properties of entrepreneurial thinking. You don’t have to start a company to use these properties.”

Khosla described thinking like an entrepreneur as the ability to identify an opportunity, understand the risk and execute a plan while mitigating risk—Actions that could be associated with visual artists, theatrical performers, biomechanical engineers or chemists.

Entrepreneurship isn’t a special trait or isolated skill, he said, noting that bold business ventures often lack diversity because too many people lack exposure to entrepreneurial training or settings where they can discuss ideas with people who are knowledgeable in what it takes to get a business off the ground.

The Design and Innovation Building, or DIB, has four levels (and four floors) to progress an idea figuratively and physically from inception and workshopping, to prototype, funding and launch. The Entrepreneurship Center resides on the top floor. The Basement, a storied startup incubator and accelerator, has a commanding space on the ground floor.

Pitch hits
Vice Chancellor of Research Cori Peek-Asa explained that UC San Diego offers an opportunity for collaboration that exists on very few campuses in the nation.

“The interdisciplinary focus of our campus creates diverse teams and unique opportunities that allow us to take advantage of unconventional thinking that can solve problems in dynamic and exciting new ways,” Peek-Asa said.

She noted that the teams present for the event were working on solutions to problems as broad as destigmatizing the availability of menstrual products in public areas (Dotstash) to creating prosthetics and orthotics that are more comfortable, functional and affordable (LIMBER).