UCSD in La Jolla: Dr. Ivor Royston

Editor’s note: To mark UCSD’s 50th anniversary, the Light is asking people for their thoughts on how the university has affected La Jolla. Today, we hear from Dr. Ivor Royston, who was on the oncology faculty at UCSD from 1978 to 1990. He is a founding managing partner of Forward Ventures and, from 1990 to 2000, he served as the founding president and CEO of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. In 1978, Royston co-founded Hybritech, Inc., San Diego’s first biotechnology company and has been instrumental in the formation, financing, and development of numerous biotechnology companies, including being co-founder of IDEC Corp., which merged with Biogen to form BiogenIdec. In 2006, Dr. Royston was inducted into the San Diego Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.

“UCSD has had a profound effect on the community of La Jolla as well as San Diego’s regional economy. The university’s entrepreneurial culture and spirit have invigorated the university, its faculty and students, the business community and the San Diego region.

This began during my early years as a UCSD faculty member when Richard Atkinson was recruited from Stanford University in Silicon Valley to become chancellor of UCSD. He brought with him the entrepreneurial spirit that had pervaded the Bay Area. Upon arrival at UCSD he promoted high-tech start-ups near campus; he created interdisciplinary research centers in magnetic recording, molecular genetics, wireless communication and structural engineering; he raised the requisite unrestricted start-up funds to support these research centers, and most importantly he and Vice Chancellor Mary Walshok created UCSD Connect to assist entrepreneurs in fundraising, strategic alliances, and gaining marketing and management expertise. Working with the private sector, UCSD Connect provided members with educational resources, mentoring and access to venture capital.

Connect has become the most successful and national model for university-private sector entrepreneurship which numerous cities and regions have attempted to emulate. As a result, since 1985, Connect has contributed to developing more than 2,000 technology companies in the La Jolla region. This could only have resulted from the vision of the leaders of UCSD in the early ‘80s under Richard Atkinson. This unique partnership, brokered by UCSD, has defined the economy, culture and community of La Jolla and much of the San Diego region.