The Entrepreneurship University at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

An Undergraduate Early Commercialization Challenge—Pilot Project Design

Pilot Project Objective

To "test-drive" the key elements of a collaborative educational model that supports two primary goals:

  • To strengthen and advance America’s engineering and science workforce, growing their capacity to innovate and to work collaboratively to bring high technology products to market
  • To expand the educational capacity of undergraduate engineering and science programs on campuses that do not have major research facilities by leveraging the world-class assets of a national research laboratory

The pilot project experience and feedback from the pilot participants will be used to refine the educational model.

Model Description

The Entrepreneurship University at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory is an invitational 8-week summer program that challenges faculty-led teams of undergraduate engineering, science, and business students to propose promising commercial applications for new technologies developed at a national laboratory. Faculty team leaders are compensated for their role as team leaders and mentors, and students receive a stipend for their participation. Preparation for the challenge begins during the spring preceding the 8-week summer program. Engineering and science departments invited to participate in the challenge will identify two faculty members to recruit and lead 4 teams of 4 full-time college seniors of their choice, with priority given to residents of the Tri-Valley region (the cities of Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon, and Danville). Each team will have 2 business students and 2 technical students - again, giving priority to residents of the Tri-Valley region.

Once the faculty-student team is formed, the team is free to explore patented technologies listed on the website of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and begin to brainstorm possible commercial applications. LLNL contacts for each patented technology are available for consultation.

The 8-week summer challenge begins the third week in June with a week-long "Innovation Boot Camp" at the LLNL site, with lodging and meals provided for the faculty-student teams. The first day of the boot camp, each team meets its two team mentors - a "tech mentor" from LLNL and an "entrepreneur mentor" - who will be available to the team for consultation throughout the 8-week challenge. During the boot camp week, teams will work with their team mentors to select two candidate technologies to work with during the next three weeks of the Challenge. Following the boot camp week, teams return to their universities to develop a commercialization concept for each of the two technologies.

At the end of the fourth week of the challenge, teams will return to LLNL for a mid-challenge gathering. This gathering will prepare the teams to complete an early commercialization plan for one of their two candidate technologies. Tech and entrepreneur mentors will be onsite that weekend to help their teams evaluate the strength of their two commercialization concepts and select one of the two for the early commercialization plan each team will present at the end of the 8-week challenge. Following the weekend gathering, teams return once again to their universities to complete their early commercialization plan presentations, in consultation with their tech and entrepreneur mentors.

The final week of the 8-week challenge, teams return to LLNL to put the finishing touches on their presentations, working once again with tech and entrepreneur mentors onsite. The week will end with the presentations, which will be evaluated by a panel of serial entrepreneurs and LLNL technology experts, and an end-of the-challenge celebration.

Participating Universities

  • CSU Maritime - Contact: Dr. Stephen Pronchick, Mechanical Engineering Department Chair
  • CSU East Bay - Contact: Dr. Michael Leung, Dean of the College of Sciences Dr. Teresa Swartz, Dean of the College of Business and Economics

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