The second annual UCI Innovator Awards ceremony was held at the Cove @ UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Launched with support from the Beall Family Foundation, the Innovator Awards celebrate UCI researchers and faculty from campus.
“These awards were created to recognize UCI researchers who are working actively to promote commercialization of university intellectual property through invention disclosures filed, patents applied for and/or received, technologies licensed or startup companies formed,” said Richard Sudek, UCI chief innovation officer and executive director of UCI Beall Applied Innovation and the event’s host.
After a few words from special guests Don Beall, chairman of the Beall Family Foundation and chair emeritus of the UCI Beall Applied Innovation board, and Enrique Lavernia, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor, Sudek and Lavernia announced the nominees and winners of three award categories.
The Emerging Innovation/Early Career Innovator of the Year award recognizes distinguished innovators who have demonstrated excellence in the early stage of their careers, or in the early stages of an innovation breakthrough, through a combined effort in outstanding research and innovation. Nominees included Shane Ardo from the School of Physical Sciences, Sunil Gandhi from the School of Biological Sciences, and Mo Li from the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.
Li received the Emerging Innovation/Early Career Innovator of the Year award. Her research focuses on advancing infrastructure engineering through discovery of innovative materials and through understanding and enabling the interfaces between materials, structures and advanced manufacturing methods.
The Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year award recognizes distinguished innovators who have demonstrated an enterprising spirit and drive by taking one or more significant innovations developed in the university to market-readiness and also provided inspiration and empowerment to others to adopt entrepreneurism. Nominees included Chris Barty from the schools of Physical Sciences and Medicine; Elliot Botvinick from the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, the School of Medicine and the Beckman Laser Institute; Aimee Edinger from the School of Biological Sciences; Tony Givargis from the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences; and Jeffrey Krichmar from the School of Social Sciences.
Botvinick received the Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year award. He is a leader in advancing medical device research and development and bringing his research to commercialization. Current devices from his lab are aimed at the diagnosis and treatment of trauma and Type 1 diabetes.
The Innovator of the Year award recognizes distinguished innovators who have demonstrated excellence by developing a breakthrough idea, process or technology and shown its transformational potential to improve lives and create economic value. Nominees included Christopher C.W. Hughes from the School of Biological Sciences and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, Kumar Wickramasinghe from the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, and Eric Potma from the School of Physical Sciences.
Hughes received the Innovator of the Year award. His research will help develop true precision medicine and lower drug development costs by improving the accuracy of drug discovery and validation.
Researchers and faculty from campus continue to develop new ideas that benefit the public, and Lavernia stressed the importance of acknowledging and supporting their work, which is vital to the success of UCI Beall Applied Innovation and UCI’s mission to make a positive impact.
“Today, for a university to advance and thrive, it must demonstrate an understanding that innovation and entrepreneurship are different,” said Lavernia. “While innovation serves up a promise, entrepreneurship is the delivery on that promise. … Both are critically important to advance our society.”
*Pictured: (From left) Eric Potma, Sunil Gandhi, Jeffrey Krichmar, Chris Barty, Don Beall, Enrique Lavernia, Elliot Botvinick, Christopher C.W. Hughes, Kumar Wickramasinghe, Shane Ardo, Richard Sudek, Aimee Edinger and Mo Li.