Public Release: 

$10 Million gift from the William J. Von Liebig Foundation funds Center for Entrepreneurism at UCSD's Jacobs School

University of California - San Diego

UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering is launching a new center to foster commercialization of UCSD research, and to educate students about the process of moving innovations from the laboratory into the marketplace. The William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement (www.vonliebig.ucsd.edu) is funded through a $10 million gift from the William J. von Liebig Foundation of Naples, Fla.

"UC San Diego is known worldwide for leadership in technology advancement through unique programs such as the Whitaker Institute of Biomedical Engineering, the Center for Wireless Communications and UCSD CONNECT. It is the university's leadership that has made San Diego an international hub for biotechnology, telecommunications and information technology," said Robert Conn, Dean of the Jacobs School. "We believe the von Liebig Center will build on this great tradition and will serve as a national model for how research universities can more proactively ensure that discoveries are translated rapidly and effectively for the public good."

The von Liebig Center has two areas of focus:

Technology Advancement-Advisory Services will be provided by a professional staff to mentor UCSD inventors through the commercialization process, and introduce them to experts and opportunities both inside and outside the University. The von Liebig Center will award pre-seed Technology Advancement Funds of up to $100,000 each to assess and confirm the commercial potential of new discoveries. Beginning in 2002, laboratory facilities will be available to recipients of the Technology Advancement Funds to continue proof of concept research.

Education- The von Liebig Center will support the development of academic courses to prepare engineering students for work in entrepreneurial environments such as start-up companies or new product groups in existing companies. Offered through the Jacobs School, courses in entrepreneurism will be designed by engineers for engineering students and will introduce students to issues ranging from business plans to market positioning.

According to Conn: "William von Liebig was himself an entrepreneur and his company created major advances in textiles used for the reconstruction and replacement of human arteries. We are grateful to the Foundation for making these initiatives possible and in this way honoring his legacy."

"There is a great deal of harmony between what von Liebig cared deeply about and the goals of the new Center," said Jean Goggins, Executive Director of The William J. von Liebig Foundation.

"Von Liebig's passion was facilitating the transfer of technology from the laboratory bench into the hands of surgeons in order to make it easier for physicians to improve their patients' lives," said Goggins. "He had a real enthusiasm for working with and encouraging others who shared his dreams."

Joseph Bear has been named Acting Executive Director and Abigail Barrow, former Director of Programs with UCSD CONNECT, has been named the von Liebig Center's Managing Director.

"Our new center will provide a perfect complement to the services provided by CONNECT and the Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Services," said Barrow. "Taken together, we will now be able to offer more complete assistance to UCSD inventors, from identifying the commercial potential of a great idea to taking the steps necessary to get that idea into the private sector for the public benefit."

The programs of the von Liebig Center will begin in Fall 2001. Next year, the Center will move into its permanent headquarters in the Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, currently under construction.

Born in 1923, William J. von Liebig was a medical-device entrepreneur, and a pioneer in vascular grafts with a very keen interest in manufacturing textiles for use by surgeons.

As a young man, he dreamed of becoming a surgeon, but when World War II began, he was called into service and he put aside his dream of attending medical school. After the war, he finished a degree in textile engineering and went into textile manufacturing.

By the 1950s, von Liebig began to marry his interest in surgery with his expertise in textiles, working with doctors to manufacture textiles for use as vascular grafts.

He established Meadox Medicals, Inc., in 1961, which manufactured and distributed vascular grafts and other devices designed to treat cardiovascular disease. In 1975, von Liebig created The William J. von Liebig Foundation, which generously supports medical research, primarily for the treatment of vascular and cardiovascular diseases. Von Liebig died in 1999.

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Additional Media Contacts:
Doug Ramsey, 858- 822-5825 or dramsey@ucsd.edu
The William J. von Liebig Foundation www.vonliebigfoundation.com

Editors Note: More information at www.vonliebig.ucsd.edu

Denine Hagen
Director of Communications
The Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, Dept. 0403
La Jolla, CA 92093-0403
Tel. 858-534-2920
Fax. 858-534-0351
Email dhagen@soe.ucsd.edu
www.soe.ucsd.edu

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