Commercial and Community Initiatives

The importance of globalization of business and international markets is manifest. One of the striking features of Orange County is the growth of its international business activity. The County, known as a hotbed of high-technology manufacturing and entrepreneurs, is now going through a sustained expansion in international operations. This international focus is a natural result of our geographical location. Currently, exports through the Los Angeles harbor exceed those through the traditional main gate to the US market, New York. Corporations are acutely aware of the need for global competitiveness, spurred by the liberalization of world trade brought about by GATT, NAFTA, WTO, and the coming trade agreements with Pacific and Atlantic partners. Thus, Orange County is uniquely positioned to benefit from the growing US trade links. Exports from the County have continued to burgeon since 2009, with merchandise exports growing from $20 billion to over $30 billion between 2010 and 2015. Tourism and sales of high-tech services (including educational ones) add another 50% on top of Orange County merchandise exports. Exports from the County are roughly evenly divided among Asia, our NAFTA partners, and the European Union. Emerging markets in Eastern Europe and South America are of growing importance.

Two important international trade infrastructure assets will be advocated with the collaboration of the other UC business schools, Chancellors, the Office of the President, and members of the community. A third such venture involves the collaboration with the University of Havana and Aarhus University (Denmark) in the development of a renewable energy project in Cuba serving humanitarian purposes. 

International Executive Program Development

Recently the AACSB reported: “The future will see greater participation in non-degree (open education, executive education, corporate education, certificates, etc.) across age groups and demographics and countries.” This leads us to developing a series of international education programs in collaboration with the Merage School of Business Executive Education Office.
During the spring of 2016 business faculty from both UCI and the University of Havana are working together to develop one-week executive education programs for companies and organizations seeking to create sustainable business relationships between the two countries. The first such program will be delivered in Havana in September 2016. Fifteen American managers (representing five American firms) would travel to Havana for a one-week residential course on a selected topic such as renewable energy, health care, or tourism infrastructure. The program would involve visits at appropriate facilities around the Havana area and presentations by Cuban and American experts on the selected topic. One of the days of the program would be specifically devoted to negotiations training including intercultural simulations with fifteen Cuban managers.

We plan to ramp up similar executive programs for companies interested in entering or training their managers for success in a variety of other emerging economies. 

  • Vietnam:  An ongoing series of programs related to the opening of Vietnam will be developed. The U.S. government might sponsor Vietnamese managers to travel to Irvine during the summer. We would provide training and perhaps a residential program in that country for American executives. This takes advantage of our location at the Vietnamese immigration bridgehead of Orange County.
  • Iran:  Assuming political relations improve, the Merage School might serve as another natural bridgehead for such executive programs in Iran.
  • China:  Similar to the above, but takes advantage of our faculty with experience and expertise in this area. In this program, the Center will collaborate with the UCI Long Institute. In the past we have delivered such programs to FAW Automotive executives.
  • South Korea:  Programs in collaboration with Korean partners are already being developed and delivered at UCI.

University of California/Pacific Rim Management Development Center

This would include a first-class executive training center (with residences), along the lines of Michigan’s very profitable facility. Currently there is no comparable facility on the West Coast.

All UC faculty (business, law, engineering, medical, etc.) might staff the programs, because logistically UCI is the central campus in the ten-campus system. That is, instructors can drive from UCLA, Riverside, UCSD, and easily fly into John Wayne Airport from Berkeley and Davis.

Executive customers can easily come to campus from all over the Pacific Rim via LAX. Irvine is an attractive location for East Coasters during the winter and international executives year-around because it is safe and golf courses are proximate. These latter factors are important competitive advantages.

UCI may have real estate to contribute to such an enterprise. Perhaps a venture similar to the Hitachi Lab might be developed with a hotel chain (e.g., Marriott). Such an arrangement has been made at Waseda University in Tokyo and Georgetown University in Washington, DC. There are a number of new buildings being used with Irvine companies on the UCI campus, and it might be possible to see if one such site might be used, in part, for an executive training center.

The Center would, of course, include the most up-to-date video conference and translation facilities. It would also be built as the greenest “hotel” in the world.


Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light): International Integrated Energy Solutions Consortium for Cuba

While UCI is well positioned to compete in all areas of global business, the University does have a unique competitive advantage in the area of renewable and smart energy technologies. This stems from the leadership of one of our first Nobel Prize winners, Sherwood Rowland. His work in atmospheric chemistry has been seminal in the climate change arena. His vision led to the establishment of the National Center for Fuel Cell Research and his protégé and former Chancellor, Ralph Cicerone now serves as the President of the National Academy of Sciences. 
In 2016 faculty from the three universities formed an international alliance to develop micro electricity grids in developing countries. Funding support is to be provided by both government and private organizations and foundation in the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States. Our purpose is to develop the means to provide electrical power using renewable resources for countries with few local energy and/or financial resources.

Technology and academic resources are provided by the School of Engineering at Aarhus University, the Center for Global Leadership & Sustainability at UCI, and the University of Havana. Most of the technical and financial analysis and proposal development will be conducted by graduate students at the three universities supervised by their respective faculties. Academic goals of the universities will be achieved using this approach.

The initial renewable energy project will be a micro grid that provides electricity to a combination hospital/university in Cuba allowed as humanitarian aid under U.S. rules regarding American investments in Cuba. Energy sources will include solar, wind, biomass (e.g., cane waste and grasses), geothermal, and hydrogen fuel cells for energy storage.

Once the IIESC has begun producing electricity for the first Cuban client, the technology/economic model will be used to develop similar micro grids in other locations in Cuba and in other developing countries around the world.