How Supporting Innovation Creates Real-World Impact

Making Waves Rising Tide Rising Tide - Sep '20
September 15, 2020 By Kaitlin Aquino

Entrepreneurs at UCI Beall Applied Innovation receive meaningful support from patrons of innovation.

Developing a product or service is already a feat in itself. Commercializing it is an entirely different undertaking many innovators may not be fully equipped to tackle without assistance. At UCI Beall Applied Innovation, original ideas, cutting-edge research and new technologies have real-world impacts with the help of business experts, funding opportunities and entrepreneurial programs.

Applied Innovation serves Southern California’s economy by creating jobs and stimulating economic growth through assisting startups and providing valuable resources for the local community. But to provide these resources at little to no cost and continue growing Orange County’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Applied Innovation relies on the support of individuals kind enough to not only donate money, but also their time.


At Applied Innovation, business leaders at large share their knowledge and expertise with UC-affiliated entrepreneurs to positively impact the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As part of the Innovation Advisors network, subject matter experts in marketing, business law, manufacturing, fundraising and other fields volunteer to mentor up-and-coming entrepreneurs faced with specific challenges of the startup experience.

Innovation Advisor Sima Ghafari finds fulfillment in mentoring startups when she reviews pitches from young innovators.

“Listening to young entrepreneurs pitching their ideas with an unbelievable energy and passion, seeing them thirsty for advice, data and guidance, watching them develop their business strategy … and raise funds to become a real business is a wonderful experience,” said Ghafari. “[It is] the perfect opportunity for industry veterans to give back to the community by means of helping young entrepreneurs.”

Aside from being a mentor, other ways to get involved include guest speaking, serving as a judge for entrepreneurial competitions, and becoming a technology, grant proposal or Wayfinder incubator application reviewer.


Applied Innovation also offers funding opportunities and programs for early-stage startups to take their next steps. Benefactors can sponsor an event at the Cove @ UCI, Applied Innovation’s headquarters, or fund a specific program dedicated to supporting startups with potential and promise.

Additionally, through UC Irvine’s (UCI) Opportunity, Wayfinding and Networking (OWN) Initiative, donors can support the development and growth of resources aimed at serving UCI’s low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students. These philanthropic gifts make a direct impact in closing the socioeconomic, gender and underrepresented minority gaps in entrepreneurship and the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, and in doing so maximizes students’ chances of success as well as the success of an “innovation district” in Orange County.

Contributors can donate to the Student Startup Fund, which provides micro-grants to students engaged in UCI’s entrepreneurial programs, competitions and centers. They can also fund a Proof of Product Grant, which helps faculty innovators with meaningful technology and research overcome commercialization barriers.

Through impassioned involvement and philanthropic support, Applied Innovation can continue its mission of providing meaningful assistance and opportunity to individuals from all backgrounds so that they can create positive, real-world impacts.

“It is such an incredible experience when you see a simple idea has morphed into a real-life impactful product,” said Ghafari. “This is transformation at all levels.”

Learn more about how to make a positive impact on Southern California’s economy and support innovation.

Main Graphic: Rachel Noble, UCI Beall Applied Innovation

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