I spent the morning at the University of Southern California Celebration of Innovation, the launch of the USC Stevens Institute, a new effort by the school to advance research and innovation–and hopefully bring that innovation to market. For those who aren’t familiar with the USC Stevens Institute, the new effort is the result of a $22M gift from Sequoia Capital venture capitalist Mark Stevens to the school.
It was a standing room only crowd, and interestingly packed with not just who you might expect–technology transfer and University researchers–but a broad scope of venture capitalists from out of the area, press and media, and executives. It’s interesting how efforts of world class universities like USC get the attention not only of folks like those who read this blog–the venture capitalists, service providers, and angel investors active in Southern California–but also of others who are interested in tapping into the potential of a research university like USC.
Aside from the heavy turnout of Tech Coast Angels, I ran into a number of venture capitalists from Sand Hill Road, one from New York, and also spent a few minutes chatting with Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and co-inventor of Ethernet (and now also a VC at Polaris Capital, an East Coast VC firm).
One of the key pieces of developing a healthy technology ecosystem, in any area, is how efficiently world class universities like USC, UCLA, Caltech, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and the other many very fine universities and colleges in the area convert the research–and students–into viable, growing startups. Efforts like the USC Stevens institute can act as a catalyst, to not only help technology spin out of the universities, but also make it attractive to start and grow technology firms in the region.
My interview with Mark Stevens of Sequoia will run later this week.