At their September meeting, South Coast Business Forum members heard UC Santa Barbara Technology Management Program and Technology & Industry Alliances officials describe how dozens of companies have started on campus and then have grown on their own or are acquired by a larger firm.
Mike Panesis, director of the Technology Management Program, said it is creating new businesses that are bringing more jobs to the South Coast and other parts of California.
“Our goal is not to just graduate students, but to start companies,” Panesis told about 20 members of the forum, which is made up of representatives from South Coast chambers of commerce, other business organizations and government officials. “We want students to make waves. There is an incredible atmosphere of entrepreneurship.”
The program’s New Venture Challenge, now in its 14th year, brings out the cream of the crop of new business ideas, which result in four to eight new businesses each year, he said. Last year, the competition drew 46 teams, including 150 participants, and yielded 18 start-ups.
“We have a broad and deep mentor network,” Panesis said, which includes about 500 names.
Sherylle Mills Englander of the Technology & Industry Alliances program, said many of the new companies stay on the South Coast, but some must follow their market to the Bay Area or San Diego.
Sirigen, a medical diagnostic startup that came out of the UCSB program, was acquired by a much larger company recently, she said.
Several companies in the program have had international impacts. The Groovy Drum Skimmer company made huge strides in technology used to clean up the 2012 BP oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Mills Englander. She said Quickclot is a company whose self-cauterizing bandage is used to help bind wounds of soldier in Afghanistan.
Inogen, which makes oxygen distribution equipment, is another program participant that has grown in Santa Barbara. Phone Halo is a recent program participant that has an office on upper State Street. Phone Halo makes a device alerts someone on their smartphone when they get too far from their keys.
“It is exciting to see real world examples of how UCSB, SB City College and Westmont are all promoting entrepreneurship here in our community,” forum chairman Michael Holliday said. “Last month, we heard presentations from SBCC’s Scheinfeld Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and the Small Business Development Center.
“This month, we received updates from the UCSB TMP and the TIA and learned how these institutions are supporting the local economy in creating new jobs and also by creating new companies that can startup and thrive here on the South Coast. This is all very good news for our business community.”