A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Entrepreneur-in-residence Helps with Business Ideas

October 8, 2012

UC Merced has its first entrepreneur-in-residence, Jerome A. Mattingly, who works with the Office of Technology Transfer to help anyone – faculty, staff or students – who has an idea for a business. Each UC campus has at least one such staff member, and Mattingly is UC Merced’s first. He has served on university campuses before, as an assistant professor at The Ohio State University School of Medicine, and has business experience both from the entrepreneurial side and the investing side. He has been president and CEO of four different biotechnology-oriented companies and was president of an angel-investing organization in New Mexico and a partner in a venture-capital organization.

Mattingly answers five questions about his role here and the economic environment in this region:

Please explain your role with UC Merced and what an entrepreneur-in-residence offers the campus:

I view my role here as three-fold. Firstly, it is to assist faculty, staff and students who have an entrepreneurial spirit and a good idea to commercialize that idea. Secondly, it is to work with the Office of Technology Transfer to assist in commercializing the patents the university has been awarded. And thirdly, it is to help create good jobs and new companies in the Central Valley based upon UC Merced technologies. What the position offers the campus is an experienced person who is dedicated only toward making really good ideas financially rewarding to both the inventors and the university.

How should people best prepare for a meeting with you, and what is the best way to reach you?

The best way to reach me would be by email, but I can also be reached by phone at 209-962-6235. As far as preparation for an initial meeting, nothing is really required other than a good understanding of the subject matter and the ability to communicate it and explain it in plain terms. Having said that, if a patent is being considered, the idea or technology should probably be disclosed to the Office of Technology Transfer before discussing it with very many people.

What’s your best advice for students or faculty members considering starting a business right now?

I guess the first thing that I would recommend is to have a meeting with me to discuss it. But if they don’t wish to do that, I would simply encourage them to ‘just do it.’ I say this because if they are already considering it, then they probably have the necessary entrepreneurial spirit and they have probably already given some thoughtful analysis to it. There are so many reasons advanced by others to not do it, and so many potential pitfalls to consider, that a person can be easily dissuaded from following his or her dream by delaying their actions. Thoughtful hesitation can be good; fearful hesitation is bad.

How do inventions created on campus spur economic growth?

They don’t — unless and until they are commercialized! But that’s the whole point; an invention that does nothing other than count as a publication upon the inventor’s curriculum vitae is of no value – it only really attains value upon commercialization. Every new business that is formed to commercialize a UC technology, by definition, will create jobs – at least one job. Economic growth is spurred one job at a time. 

What do you believe is the biggest deterrent to business creation in this region, and how can UC Merced help address and overcome that issue?

The biggest deterrent is the relative paucity of business infrastructure. By this I mean the very small number of successful serial entrepreneurs to lead new companies, the small amount of investment capital (angel investors and venture capitalists) to fund creation and startup of companies, the relatively small highly trained and educated labor force, and a paucity of business success stories (success begets success).

The university is addressing each of these as best that it can, but good things always take longer than desired. UC Merced is obviously creating the trained and educated labor force and working behind the scenes to attract angel investors and venture capitalists, and with a couple of good startup companies being created — which is why I am here — tremendous strides could be made in creating more successful serial entrepreneurs and business success stories.

With a little success, the investment capital will also start flowing in — success begets success!  The university is the seed for this success.

Spotlight is a new feature that we hope you will all contribute toward. It is meant to be an interactive Q&A with a UC Merced staff or faculty member. In the Oct. 26 issue of Panorama, we will highlight Professor David Kaminsky. We encourage you to submit questions by Oct. 19. Also, let us know if you have someone you would like us to include for a future Spotlight.