In 2001, the William J. von Liebig Foundation awarded a $10 million gift to UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering to launch the William J. von Liebig Center, the first commercialization facility of its kind in the country. The Center’s mission is to inspire entrepreneurism and catalyze commercialization of UCSD inventions through grants, education and business mentoring.
Commercializing early stage technologies is a very difficult and long process. However, in six years, the von Liebig Center has achieved remarkable results: it has received more than 200 proposals and invested more than $3.8M in seed grants and advisory services to over 70 projects. These projects have resulted in more than 22 license agreements and helped launch 16 start-up companies. In turn, those start-ups have attracted more than $78 million in subsequent capital from the private sector and created over 130 new jobs.
The Center mentors a broad range of projects in areas including medical devices/diagnostics, software, and clean technologies. These projects result in companies and products with far-reaching impacts for sustainability, healthcare and other areas that ultimately improve quality of life. Examples include an improved screening test for the human papillomavirus associated with cervical cancer, technologies that improve the treatment of shock and acute inflammatory diseases, alternative power sources based on heat to electricity conversion and next generation energy efficient lighting devices.
The Center’s popular entrepreneurism courses have attracted over 400 graduate and undergraduate students, some of whom have also completed internships with the Center. Many of these von Liebig alumni have gone on to successful careers as entrepreneurs or business development professionals where they foster a culture of innovation and cooperation across disciplines.