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2022–23 Grants

The following are summaries of the research grants awarded:

CCGT fosters academic inquiry at GPS and departments across UC San Diego by offering grants for innovative research for faculty and doctoral students. The following major projects were awarded.

Aiding new entrepreneurs

Elizabeth Lyons, Associate Professor

The Policy and Strategy Entrepreneurship Lab (PSE-Lab) Venture Program, led by GPS professor Elizabeth Lyons, is tailored primarily for early-stage ideas that have promise but have not yet been brought to market.

At GPS, the PSE-Lab and venture program falls within CCGT, a research center at the school designed to establish and support San Diego as a hub for ideas on international policy and to foster research that addresses technology transformation.

“The objective of the program is to provide founders resources to support this early stage of their ideas and businesses, with guidance on how to put one foot in front of the other, where to focus their attention and, as a result, how to make progress in the face of what can seem like insurmountable uncertainty and workload,” Lyons said.

The program will provide concrete advice on the activity and direction on which the venture should be focused, provided by a full team of industry leaders in their respective fields. The council of mentors providing this feedback were selected based on the members’ breadth of experience, ability to think critically and thoughtfully about novel questions and demonstrated commitment to the startup community.

Members include James Cross, co-head of Private Investing for Franklin Equity Group; Kirti Gupta, vice president and chief economist at Qualcomm Inc., James Lambright, a professor of practice at GPS and former senior vice president of Sempra Energy; David Mallery, cofounder and CEO of Paradigm Diagnostics as well as Don Rosenberg, recently retired as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Qualcomm Inc.

The lab will also provide accounting and legal resources, personalized management advice, finance, and marketing training and ongoing guidance as well as feedback on reaching milestones. In addition, program participants will have the opportunity to expand their networks through the connections they will make in the PSE-Lab Venture Program and will have the opportunity to be introduced to angel and venture capital investors in their respective industries at whatever point they are ready to fundraise.

Lyons was inspired by a startup course she has taught to GPS students over the past four years.

“Through my experience in teaching this course, I was seeing brilliant ideas get abandoned because students weren’t sure about how to take the next step outside of the classroom or weren’t sure whether it was worth their time to do so,” Lyons said. “I was reminded in this very concrete way that there are so many potential or would-be successful entrepreneurs if those early stages of getting an idea off the ground weren’t so nebulous and uncertain.”

Lyons added that several factors contribute to making the region the perfect place to play host to such a program.

First, UC San Diego has world-renowned STEM programs and is home to technologists on the global frontier of their fields. Second, the region has a thriving and exciting startup scene that is boosted by the priority with which local investors and mentors give San Diego-founded companies. Third, our proximity to the border with Mexico provides an opportunity to work with and build relationships with the emerging technology and startup scene in neighboring Baja California, Lyons explained.

In addition, the program is bolstered by GPS’ globallyrecognized expertise in areas that overlap with some of the most important problems and opportunities facing the market today — particularly energy and environmental policy, China, emerging markets, national security, and governance and sustainability.

“CCGT has a reputation for building relationships and programming with innovative people and organizations that have contributed to genuine and positive change in their communities and globally,” Lyons said. “To be associated with the center is a great reputational signal for us, and it also provides the PSE-Lab with the added experience that the center has in running successful programs.”

Impacts of Uncertainty on Consumer Decisions

Uma R. Karmarkar, Associate Professor

In what ways can feelings of uncertainty in day-to-day life can alter specific consumer preferences and decisions? Together with her collaborator, Karmarkar launched a series of experiments in which individuals either rated the degree of uncertainty or upheaval they had felt in the last month, and then indicated specific types of choices they might make in commercial settings, like investments or retail purchases. This study helps to show whether uncertainty uniquely changes the degree of control consumers prefer in their marketplace decisions, and also how these feelings and choices can differ between more conservative and liberal political orientations.

Creating Entrepreneurs at Scale & Supply Chains in India

Gaurav Khanna, Assistant Professor

In partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh on the rollout of the Entrepreneurial Mindset Development Program, Khanna and coauthors launched a new evidence-based project to determine whether entrepreneurial skills can be taught (especially to secondary school students), what methods are most effective and scalable, and what their impact is on long-term labor-market and entrepreneurial outcomes. A separate project looks at recent supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns and how supply chains also can spread shocks across the economy, while amplifying shortages and increasing inflation. Working closely with state governments in India, researchers are using administrative data to better
understand the roles supply chains play in the Indian economy.

The Life Cycle of Products

Munseob Lee, Assistant Professor

The emergence of large-scale and granular product data sets has allowed economists to make significant advances in understanding the nature, extent and cyclical properties of product churning. Despite these advances in the literature, little is known about the dynamics behind the rise and fall of products. The research fills these gaps by examining the life cycle of a large cross-section of products and by providing evidence about the role product performance plays in shaping both firm and economic growth. The paper will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Political Economy.