UC Davis Takes Collaboration Off Campus
On March 22, 2018, the CoLaborator officially opened in our West Sacramento, California facility. This event brought together ag innovation enthusiasts from many different industries including universities, government, venture capital, media, and science. During this time, I spoke with four participants on the importance of collaboration and innovation in agriculture, which led to this blog series.
The next person I got to speak with at the CoLaborator opening was Dushyant Pathak, Associate Vice Chancellor of Technology Management Corporate Relations (TMCR) and Executive Director of Venture Catalyst at UC Davis. Through these roles, he is actively connecting research with opportunities across the various schools and departments of the university.
Tell me a little more about your role at UC Davis and within the TMCR unit and Venture Catalyst program.
Dushyant: In my role as Associate Vice Chancellor of Research at UC Davis, I have responsibility for three units that reach outside of the university and impacts our programs. The first, Innovation Access, is responsible for intellectual property management, patents and licensing. Our Office of Corporate Relations engages with established companies, like Bayer, to help build research-engaged collaborations and manages these alliances. Finally, Venture Catalyst, for which I am also the Executive Director, focuses on the resources and support needed for the creation of successful university research enabled startups. These startups, in turn, represent potential for students, faculty, and alumni with respect to technology commercialization, employment opportunities and internships.
It’s clear that the CoLaborator is going to offer new innovation and research opportunities to UC Davis, but why are you specifically excited to partner with Bayer through this space?
Dushyant: Bayer is the single company that I can think of that perfectly mirrors UC Davis in terms of its broad strength and capabilities and areas of focus. Crop Sciences, Animal Health, and Human Health are important elements of Bayer and its strategic focus, mirroring our areas of strength with the premier College of Agricultural Sciences, the world’s leading School of Veterinary Medicine, and the rapidly growing School of Medicine. Between UC Davis and Bayer, we provide perfect collaborative opportunities to synergize our research and technology commercialization efforts.
Focusing on the agriculture aspect and upcoming advances in the field, what would you tell farmers to get them excited about the future of ag?
Dushyant: Our faculty is doing cutting-edge work in a number of areas including breeding new varieties that are, for example, resistant to climate change, sparing on the requirement for pesticides and fertilizers, enriched in nutrients and provide increased yields or express important traits. We look at ways in which you can have practical benefits for farmers who work with the outputs of our research in useful ways.
We support startups that are doing similar things coming out of our university. Tule Technologies developed a sensor that gives an accurate measure of the moisture content across huge acreages. So far, they’ve deployed this in over 1K farms across California allowing growers to know the stress levels of their crops and control the amount of irrigation and water use. A company called XTB Laboratories is developing a diagnostic for citrus greening for early detection of disease.
Those are the types of practical innovations that are really tangible that affect growers.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this innovation series, where we’ll hear from Cynthia Carrillo of The Greater Sacramento Economic Council.