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Two ‘Seasoned and Successful’ Entrepreneurs Join UC San Diego to Guide Student Innovators

UC San Diego’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program, which currently features three savvy business professionals who help advise students on start-up ideas, has gained two additional experts.

“Serial entrepreneur and seasoned executive’ Gioia Messinger, founder and CEO of LinkedObjects Inc., and Martha Symko-Davies, director of partnerships for Energy Systems Integration of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, bring “directly applicable experience and an optimistic, forward-looking vision to our campus Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program,” said Vice Chancellor for Research Sandra A. Brown.

“Both Gioia and Martha are exemplars of the high-achieving go-getters who inspire so many students to follow their own visions for success,” Brown said. “Their individual records of accomplishment add an extra measure of value to our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program.”

They join investor Tim Rueth, former CBO Ted Daley, and ecoATM co-founder John Beane, in place since early 2016 and actively working now with students and faculty members to develop commercialization strategies, help define the market case for products and ideas, create business models, and guide the creation of new companies from campus innovations.

Image: Gioia Messinger

Gioia Messinger

Messinger has an extensive background in connected devices, digital health, and video technologies. She is founder and CEO of LinkedObjects, a technology and business strategy firm specializing in “the Internet of Things.” Prior to that, she was founder and CEO of Avaak Inc. (acquired by Netgear), a venture-funded company that created VueZone, the award-winning video and cloud service that redefined the home-monitoring sector. She is also the Chief Judge for the Qualcomm Tricorder Xprize, a $10-million competition to bring healthcare to handheld devices, and the Nokia Sensing Xchallenge, a competition to transform medical sensors. She is a Global 100 Mentor; a visiting lecturer and mentor at the Rady School of Management; an advisor at the Von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center; and serves on the screening committee of the Triton Technology Fund. She earned a master’s in business administration at UC Irvine, and both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering at UC San Diego.

Image: Martha Symko Davies

Martha Symko Davies

Symko-Davies, Ph.D., is currently Director of Partnerships, Energy Systems Integration, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), where she works with external stakeholders to optimize the design and performance of electrical, thermal, fuel and water systems at all scales. In this post, she helps industries, utilities, and academic institutions to design and optimize “the energy systems of the future;” and she oversees R&D partnerships with over 16 labs in both basic and applied science. During her tenure, the NREL gained accounts with SDG&E, Solar City, Google, Duke, HECO, FPL, Apple, Time Warner Cable, and Toyota. Prior to serving as Director of Partnerships, she was the Manager of the Process Development Integration Laboratory, and Architect and Manager of the PV Technology Incubator in Golden, Colorado. She earned a bachelor of science in physics and mathematics at the University of Utah, and her Ph.D. in materials science at the University of Denver and the NREL.

“The Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program is part of UC San Diego’s plan to take the lead in research-based entrepreneurship,” said Paul Roben, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation. “We want our students to create new businesses, design improvements for society, and be the leaders of the new economy.”

As an integral part of the Office of Research Affairs and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, said Roben, the Entrepreneurs programs will have unprecedented access to a portfolio of high-potential, high-impact opportunities, tools, resources, personnel, and support services.

“Research Affairs and the OIC are establishing a campus-wide innovation platform to build a systemic and sustainable innovation culture,” Roben said. “We are creating a vibrant regional ecosystem, and accelerating the commercialization of UC San Diego inventions. The Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program, with these outstanding new contributors, builds on that innovation strategy.”


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