|Dakota Foundation gift establishes entrepreneurial tech commercialization initiative |
An Entrepreneurial Tech Commercialization initiative is being launched at the University of North Dakota to encourage and support UND faculty, researchers and students to start viable ventures around their research ideas and innovations. The program was made possible through a generous gift from the Dakota Foundation to the UND Center for Innovation Foundation. The Dakota Foundation is a charitable organization founded and run by Bart and Lynn Holaday of Grand Forks and Placitas, N.M.
"I am giving my full support to this entrepreneur tech commercialization initiative, an opportunity for UND to become more creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial. The initiative will build upon our nationally ranked entrepreneur program and will encourage more students, researchers and faculty to consider entrepreneurship as part of their professional activities. We host some of the best and brightest researchers on campus, folks who are busy creating solutions to problems and discovering innovations that make a difference," said President Robert Kelley.
The initiative relies on four fundamental pillars for success: promote entrepreneurial tech commercialization as an important new initiative, build from the strength of the entrepreneurship program, educate and support researchers, and reward entrepreneurial activity.
The grant will help UND promote entrepreneurship across campus and will focus on facilitating the transition from research to business development. Kelley is asking staff from the Center for Innovation to work with UND's tech transfer office and the UND Research Foundation to foster relationships with research intensive departments, developing workshops to encourage intellectual property activities and highlight best practices. The campus experts will also publish resources to assist faculty and staff in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
UND will also create faculty and student partnerships by utilizing entrepreneur students for commercialization research and business plan development. The grant will encourage and support faculty and graduate students to participate in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs to launch companies with these grants and contracts. Additionally, UND will invite entrepreneurs and executives-in-residence to set up office in the incubator to work with promising researchers. A new reward component will be encouraged to integrate into performance evaluations the recognition of faculty for entrepreneurial achievements. Lastly, UND will encourage development with favorable royalty terms for university startups and institutional support and promotion.
Jordan Schuetzle, director of the Entrepreneur Tech Commercialization initiative at the Center for Innovation, said, "Starting a company during a national recession seems counter-intuitive, but many successful companies were started during recessions. It takes courage to start a venture in a down cycle, but when things turn for the better in a year or two, the entrepreneur will have a full head of steam and be able to capitalize on the growth cycle. During these times successful entrepreneurs build their business through bootstrapping, focusing on results and customer needs, and 'keeping their day jobs' while working on the startup in their off hours. Entrepreneurs can benefit from recessions as talent is readily available, and often supplies, rents, equipment and other costs are discounted, thus lowering operating costs."
The Entrepreneurial Tech Commercialization initiative will pull together many of the strengths of the University to succeed: the Center for Innovation, the two tech incubators, the entrepreneurship program and the entrepreneurship department, UND Technology Park, the technology transfer office, and the Small Business Development Center. In addition, it will interact with the UND Research Foundation in its Research Enterprise and Commercialization (REAC) Park as UNDRF provides opportunities to corporate partners to advance the research and development of products with UND faculty and students.
The initiative will also benefit from the Red River Research Corridor, the Centers of Excellence program in North Dakota, and an EDA (Economic Development Administration) grant to the Center for Innovation to work on tech-based economic development. The Center for Innovation also works with a network of 23 angel funds in North Dakota and five other states in the region providing access to equity financing.
The Dakota Foundation (www.dakotafoundation.org) is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 by Bart and Lynn Holaday to focus their philanthropic efforts on initiatives that foster social entrepreneurship in North Dakota and New Mexico.
The Center for Innovation helps entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers and students launch new technologies, products and ventures, develop business and marketing plans, access talent of universities and secure venture financing. The Center operates the Skalicky Tech Incubator and the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center. The Center for Innovation was a founding member of the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2), the national organization that seeks to bring entrepreneurs and investors into the innovation economy through tech transfer startups at universities.
The Center's two tech incubators host 19 entrepreneur ventures employing more than 130 people. The Center was among the first technology outreach centers in the nation and has helped launch more than 440 new products and ventures since it was formed in 1984. The Center has won six national awards for excellence in innovation and technology entrepreneurship. The Center is a division of the UND College of Business and Public Administration, www.innovators.net .