Home Podcast Connecting Inventors with Opportunity with Paul Roben and Al Pisano

Connecting Inventors with Opportunity with Paul Roben and Al Pisano

by Neal Bloom

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UC San Diego is an innovation powerhouse that has a significant influence over San Diego’s economic development. The campus boasts over 500 inventions per year, and is in the top five ranking universities in the nation for startups. To continue cultivating a strong innovation ecosystem, the university established a local chapter of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Meet the UC San Diego team who helped create this chapter: Paul Roben and Al Pisano

Paul was a previous postdoc at UC San Diego, and proceeded to work for the Irish government as the Director of Lifesciences, developing national policy for the biotechnology sector. He returned to San Diego to work at the Salk Institute, and eventually transitioned to UC San Diego as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Innovation & Commercialization. He focuses on creating educational activities for students involved in entrepreneurship, such as certificate programs and incubators, and manages relationships between the school and various industries to commercialize technology developed on campus. 

Al’s career consistently involved designing and innovating new products. In the past, he was a practicing engineer that created new products for companies such as Xerox and General Motors. As the current Dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, he quotes the school’s two mantras, “We make bold possible,”and “Innovation happens here,” as the driving force behind the curriculum and research efforts for students interested in innovation. He anticipates that the chapter will excite the local communities and continue the outpour of startups and inventions from the campus. 

The NAI was created to recognize innovators and create an environment for like-minded students to receive education and mentorship. Both men agree that the addition of the local chapter is a great opportunity, as it gives a national platform to showcase the school’s progress and innovative efforts, collaborate with others, and access a global network of mentors and investors. The San Diego region has received over $5 billion in venture investment funding in the past year. UC San Diego has been active in working with local industry partners. The campus has already shown successful results, and with the new chapter, will most likely continue that momentum. 

Listen in to hear Paul and Al share their vision for the UC San Diego’s NAI chapter and how San Diego’s tech community and private sector can engage with the school’s innovators. 


Their favorite local tacos:

Paul: Del Sur Mexican Cantina in South Park

Al: City Tacos in Encinitas


Connect with Paul and Al on LinkedIn:

Paul Roben and Al Pisano


Learn more about UCSD’s NAI Chapter Here:

Website: https://innovation.ucsd.edu/naiucsd/


Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.

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