The Entrepreneurship and Innovation unit under the School of Medicine Office of Research provides support to those interested in exploration and commercialization of research innovations through industry partnerships and startup-support.

The support of this unit and the resources that UC Davis offers create an optimal environment to maximize new product and startup success. The culture of collaboration across disciplines at UC Davis with the strong academic and clinical resources of the medical school, veterinary school, college of engineering, genome center and biomedical informatics and biostatistics programs provides the perfect incubator for successfully creating new therapies and products.

Through workshops and symposia, the unit also bridges conversations to advance partnerships through inclusion of new ideas and perspectives. It also provides one-on-one counseling to faculty members and trainees on the activities associated with translational research and entrepreneurship, including corporate structure, regulatory, finance, marketing, product development and industry partnerships. 

For inquiries, please submit a Request Services form.

Meet James Kovach, M.D., J.D.

Jams KovachDr. Kovach serves as Assistant Dean for Entrepreneurship for UC Davis Health as well as Chief Innovation Officer of Aggie Square. Before joining UC Davis Health in 2015, he has directed the Technology Transfer Program at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, served as Chief Operating Officer of Athersys, Inc. and served as President of the Buck Institute for Age Research.

James holds a medical degree from the University of Kentucky and a law degree from Stanford University. He also played in the National Football League before practicing corporate law in Palo Alto, California.

James provides consultation, services and program resources for faculty or trainees looking to start a company, work with a company, file a patent, and pursue other avenues in those facets.

Learn more about the very interesting journey of Kovach and his work with innovators and start-ups from a recent Sacramento Business Journal article.

Jim Kovach interviews the 2018 Innovator of the Year Richard Levenson

Richard Levenson, professor and vice-chair for Strategic Technologies in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is the 2018 Innovator of the Year.

Listen to him describe to James Kovach his MUSE (Microscopy with Ultraviolet Excitation) and view his YouTube video to see how it all works!

EXPLORER- What’s the Big Deal?

Technology that transforms medicine

Envisioned by Ramsey Badawi and Simon Cherry at UC Davis more than 14 years ago, EXPLORER is the first total-body Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner in the world.

EXPLORER has attracted international attention featured in many key science and media outlets including Nature. Its images have drawn hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.  What’s the big deal about EXPLORER?

Unlike any other imaging technology available, EXPLORER can image all tissues and organs of the body in 3D at the same time. It can scan about 40 times faster than a typical PET scanner or perform scans with only 1/40th of the radiation dose to the patient.

James Kovach, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UC Davis Health’s Office of Research, advises on the business development of EXPLORER and helps scout for business opportunities to adopt and commercialize this marvelous technology.

EXPLORER Applications

“EXPLORER brings great prospects in medical research and clinical therapy,” he said. “This game-changing, innovative technology will provide new applications to medical researchers, the pharmaceutical industry, and to those working in theranostics, a new medical field combining therapy and diagnostics through a precision medicine approach.”

The scanner has broad applications for cancer diagnosis, as well as for studies of blood flow, inflammation, immunological and metabolic disorders and infections. The developers also anticipate it will be useful for patients with brain diseases, heart conditions and diseases that involve multiple organs, as well as for children because of its speed and relative safety. 

Partners in Success

UC Davis partnered with United Imaging Healthcare (UIH), an advanced imaging development company based in Shanghai, to build EXPLORER. 

“We worked closely with UIH to develop EXPLORER,” said James Kovach. “UIH put a l talented team of engineers to work and kept a very open, collaborative relationship with us that helped this project materialize.”

The full-scale EXPLORER model was installed in May in a specially prepared space on Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento. It scanned its first research subjects in the U.S. in late June and will scan its first patients later this summer.

Scientists behind EXPLORER

Simon Cherry is a distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering. Ramsey Badawi is a chief of Nuclear Medicine at UC Davis Health and vice-chair for research in the Department of Radiology.

The scanner is now commercially available from UIH.

Helpful Resources for Researchers and Innovators at UC Davis

The Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) supports biomedical research projects by providing services and resources to investigators, staff, scholars and trainees, and community partners. CTSC serves as a hub for clinical and translational research resources; expands and refines a collaborative and innovative training and education environment; integrates community partners into the translational research enterprise; leverages crosscutting research resources; and functions as a catalyst across the translational research spectrum.

The Research Investments in the Sciences and Engineering (RISE) program is designed to launch new, globally competitive large-scale interdisciplinary research activity at UC Davis. A desired outcome is that funded projects will lead to transformative knowledge and technologies that will aid in solving major problems facing our state, nation and the world.

The Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR) Grant program provides funding to UC Davis researchers to support translational science and innovative research, enabling demonstration of early proof-of-concept and commercial potential or feasibility for technologies being developed with the intent of commercial translation.

The UC Davis Stem Cell Program brings together physicians, research scientists, biomedical engineers and other experts at the Institute for Regenerative Cures, a facility supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, to advance breakthrough discoveries designed to bring stem cell therapies and cures to patients everywhere.

The Big Bang! provides a rich immersion for students, faculty, researchers and community members interested in starting or growing a business venture. In addition to the competition, the Big Bang! offers a comprehensive series of workshops for building entrepreneurial skills. 

The Biomedical + Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy(BMEA) is the premier academic program for commercializing science and engineering innovations. It is a springboard for moving research out of the lab and into the world. This three-day intensive program integrates lecture, exercises and individual projects to help participants learn to identify, design and validate market opportunities for their research. If you are a UC Davis faculty member or trainee who has an idea and would like to learn more about translating this idea into a product that fills a customer need, consider applying to BMEA.

Corporate-sponsored Senior Design Projects offer students the opportunity to work on practical real-world engineering problems while companies can gain a fresh look at a design or production issue. Student teams complete a capstone project in which they design and prototype a product, device, process, or software system. Expert guests serve as reviewers providing feedback to student teams on their exhibits and project demonstrations. If you are a UC Davis faculty member who is interested in gaining access to engineering students to solve a health problem you have identified, please contact our office.