Grace Chou named new leader of UNR's Innevation Center

RENO, Nev. — It's been nearly four years since a packed room of guests gathered for the September 2015 opening of the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center—Powered By Switch.

Since, an estimated 195 jobs have been created by companies based in the Innevation Center, and venture-funded companies at the Innevation Center have raised more than $55 million.

There is an energy about the Innevation Center which, after all, was named to take the "no" out of innovation.

It is a collaborative, co-working environment empowering Nevada's next generation of technology and businesses by providing access to mentorship, investors, interns, office and meeting space, and a well-equipped Makerspace.

The Innevation Center has more than 200 members, including community members, University faculty and students and more than 75 organizations or businesses.

Grace Chou is ready to build on the momentum as the Innevation Center's new director. Chou joined the Innevation Center from the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) where she was director for manufacturing and technology.

Her career includes senior-level positions with DuPont Industrial Biosciences, SRI International and venture-backed startups, all based in the San Francisco Bay Area or Silicon Valley.

She is a former board member for the Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium (BASIC) and has taught in the University's College of Business and at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village.

Chou holds a Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jim Sacherman, the first director of the Innevation Center, has moved to a part-time role as Entrepreneur-In-Residence through the Nevada Research & Innovation Corporation and continues to be a mentor to Innevation Center-based businesses.

The Innevation Center hosts the InNEVator pre-accelerator program and the Reynolds School of Journalism Podcast Center, and is home to Nevada Industry Excellence.

Several organizations focused on developing, mentoring and connecting businesses base all or some of their efforts in the Innevation Center, including StartUpNV, Entrepreneurs Assembly, SCORE Mentors Northern Nevada and One Million Cups.

The Innevation Center regularly collaborates with GOED and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), and investor groups such as the Sierra Angels and Watershed Growth Ventures are often on site.

“We are very much connected to the community, to economic development and to the entrepreneurial service organizations,” Chou said. “We are seeing tremendous growth in entrepreneurialism, especially technology driven entrepreneurs.

"Yet the opportunity remains to cultivate and grow the entrepreneurial culture and better connect the University and its expertise and faculty to the community at an even higher level.”

“The Innevation Center demonstrates the University's commitment to its land-grant mission. It is a tangible way that we connect to our community and contribute to the vibrancy, economy and health of our region. It is helping build jobs and career paths for our graduates,” added Mridul Gautam, University vice president for research and innovation. “I'm optimistic about what the future holds.”

The Innevation Center is part of Research & Innovation at the University and is located at 450 Sinclair St. in downtown Reno.

Jane Tors is Research Communications Director for the University of Nevada, Reno. For more information visit


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