USAID/LEMELSON FOUNDATION PARTNERSHIP AWARD NCIIA TO HELP TRANSLATE INNOVATIONS TO IMPACT
Award to fund Xcelerator training among USAID Grantees, turning ideas into sustainable solutions that improve the lives of expectant mothers and newborns
OTTAWA, ON, Canada, December 12, 2012 — Today at the Grand Challenges meeting in Ottawa, Canada, Wendy Taylor, Director, Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Carol Dahl, Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation, announced a partnership between USAID and The Lemelson Foundation to award more than $700,000 to the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). The Foundation and USAID will each contribute $352,000 toward this effort. The funds will be used to enable USAID’s Saving Lives at Birth grantees the ability to avoid common pitfalls in scaling, helping them accelerate their ideas and inventions into sustainable solutions that will impact on the world’s poorest populations.
The customized training program, called Xcelerator, will leverage NCIIA’s experience in ensuring well-designed pathways to scale for socially-minded products and services. A pilot will initially be offered to grantees of USAID’s Saving Lives at Birth program, which funds the brightest minds across the globe to identify and scale-up transformative prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns around the time of birth.
“Through Saving Lives at Birth and other programs, our Agency supports a large number of researchers and entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas and technologies with potential to save and transform lives," says Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator for USAID. "The Xcelerator program is an important new effort to speed the development and distribution of these solutions for greater impact.”
“We are excited to capitalize on the capacity that The Lemelson Foundation has been building through its support of programs like the NCIIA, to recognize and nurture the path of ideas and inventions through the innovation process, and ensure products and services that have impact on people’s lives, says Carol Dahl, Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation. “Leveraging NCIIA’s substantial experience, we’re collectively able to train inventors on how to turn their ideas into self-sustaining enterprises.”
“The Xcelerator training program is based on our successful VentureLab, an intensive and immersive program designed to enhance the success of startup enterprises. Participants come away with the skills, tools and support they need to increase the impact of their technological innovation or service,” says Phil Weilerstein, Executive Director of NCIIA. “The Xcelerator training will help participants develop a strategy map, various paths to scale, and give them tangible next steps for increasing the reach and impact of their innovations.”
About USAID The U.S. Agency for International Development provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. Spending less than one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget, USAID works in over 100 countries to promote broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad. For more information, visit www.usaid.gov.
About The Lemelson Foundation Founded in 1992 by prolific US inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy, The Lemelson Foundation works to inspire and enable the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises in order to build a stronger US economy and create social and economic change for the poor in developing countries. For more information, visit http://lemelson.org.
About NCIIA The NCIIA catalyzes positive social and environmental impact through invention and technological innovation by providing funding, training and mentoring for university faculty and student innovators. With support from The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation and a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages approximately 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their campuses as working laboratories for invention and innovation and incubators for businesses, and ultimately helping them to bring their ideas to market.
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, 2009 - $8,000
This grant supports a collaboration between the School of the Arts and the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to develop a cross-disciplinary certificate program in innovation and sustainability.
The plan is for the certificate program to be taught by engineering and arts faculty, based on the formation of E-Teams throughout a four-course sequence. Courses will focus on creativity and design processes, innovation and sustainable design, product realization, innovation and commercialization.
STUDENTS! Take your Idea or Startup to the Next Level
Are you an undergraduate or graduate researcher, student inventor or budding entrepreneur? Venture Well East will set you on an inside track, through a series of workshops, that will accelerate your idea or venture towards funding and commercialization.
What's next? 20 teams (see the list) were selected for VentureLab, an intensive program to help tech entrepreneurs hone their market opportunities and map their commercialization paths.
9 AM Welcome: who we are and why we're here Joseph Steig, NCIIA
About MassChallenge: Learn about the latest and greatest startup competition in Massachusetts, with $1M in prizes!
Who are you? Joseph Steig, NCIIA
9:30 AM Panel 1: Mission: Commercialization: What do companies look for when seeking technologies or ventures to acquire? Hear from experts in the areas of biomedical devices, green materials, clean energy. Michael Chiu, Founder, Trophos Energy; Mitch Tyson, Advanced Electron Beams; Benjamin Rubin, Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder, Zeo Inc.; David Steinmiller, COO, Claros Diagnostics, Inc.
10:15 AM Pushing the Mental Reset Button Facilitator: James Barlow, NCIIA
11 AM Panel 2: In the Black: You've finally gotten your venture up and running--how do you keep it that way? Ask this panel of seed stage investors: Elizabeth Bailey, Commons Capital; Matt Witheiler, Flybridge Capital Partners; David Miller, Clean Energy Venture Group.
11:45 PM Break to get boxed lunches
12 noon Keynote Talk: The Virtuous Circle: The Art of Powering Positive Feedback Loops. Matt Mason, Entrepreneur, Strategist, Author of The Pirate's Dilemma, bestselling book on the problems and opportunities created by the rise of piracy and its potential as a business model.
1:00 PM What's next? NCIIA offerings
NCIIA Bootcamp: Got an idea you'd like to take to the next level? Apply to participate in the NCIIA bootcamp, a fun, hands-on workshop designed to accelerate your thinking and action. You might even make some money! James Barlow, Program Manager for Outreach at NCIIA will give an overview of the event.
NCIIA Grants and Venture Well: Grants Manager Jennifer Keller Jackson will talk about E-team grants for students up to $20,000; Joseph Steig will talk about Venture Well, NCIIA's investment program.
2:00 PM Adjourn; optional pitching opportunity.
What is Venture Lab anyway?
Venture Lab is a highly experiential and immersive program developed and designed to enhance the success of your business idea. Trying to balance all the things you have to do to get your business not just off the ground, but flying high, can be tough, and early stage entrepreneurs often know they could be doing things more effectively.
At Venture Lab you'll evolve your business strategy, get $500 seed money for your business, and, maybe, qualify for an NCIIA E-Team grant worth up to $20,000.
At Venture Lab you'll have the space to think and explore within a dynamic environment that will help you evolve your business strategy, sales channels and marketing as well as better understand the financial mechanics of your venture, helped by people who have been there and done it.
You'll come out of the program not only with a more competitive action plan, but also with a set of tools that will help you grow your business for years to come.
Please note if you are accepted there is a $100 fee to attend.
A collection of featured articles from NCIIA publications and newsletters.
Waiting a while for the payoff: Insitutec
Imagine trying to bootstrap a company that makes industrial positioning and measuring systems with nanoscale resolution. Sound tough? It’s exactly what Shane and Bethany Woody, co-founders of Charlotte-based InsituTec, Inc., have been doing since incorporating in 2001... read more
The right team at the right time: Keen Mobility
Often, the best teams don’t form as a result of careful planning: good teams synthesize when the right people work on the right project at the right time. Such is the story of Vail Horton and the Keen Mobility E-Team... read more
Credit, Debit, or Cell Phone?
Imagine that you’re shopping at the supermarket. As you reach the end of the checkout line, the cashier offers you the familiar menu of choices with a new twist: “Credit, debit, or cell phone?”
Ajay Bam, founder of Boston-based mobile commerce processor Vayusa, Inc., and twice a recipient of NCIIA funding, wants to make this transaction a reality... read more
Different problems, same solution
It’s hard to go wrong when giving people access to new information: people crave it, markets need it, and the benefits often extend far beyond the initial application. Case in point: two Sustainable Vision grantees recently took a look at widely divergent problems and arrived at the same basic solution: these people need more information... read more
E-Team grantees focusing on new ways to meet residential energy needs
Even a brief look at the statistics regarding home energy consumption in the US can be staggering: American households consume 355 billion kwh per year for heating and cooling alone; US homes produce 21 percent of the country’s total global warming pollution; by 2020, the US residential sector will account for 11.4 quadrillion BTUs of end-use energy annually…In the long run, satisfying our energy needs while decreasing CO² emissions will require a coordinated effort on a number of fronts, including developing renewable energies and increasing energy efficiency.
Over the years, a number of NCIIA E-Teams have looked to do just that... read more
Two E-Teams talk about how they got venture capital funding—and the impact it made
One of the primary reasons the NCIIA is starting Venture Well is to address what you could call the “Big Gap”: the space between a group of college students working on an idea and a full-fledged venture worthy of investment. There’s a long way to go between the two, and it takes lots of hard work to get from one to the other. This summer we talked with two teams that succeeded in going from student E-Team to start-up to venture-funded company and discussed their journey through the world of early stage funding and venture capital... read more
Student-run, their way: EcoTech Marine
Amid all the talk these days about elevator pitches and equity, burn rate and liquidation, preferred stock and venture fairs, we present to you one simple and reassuring fact: you don’t have to get fancy angel or VC funding to succeed. In fact, in certain situations you might be better off without it. Such is the story of EcoTech Marine, a team of students with enough entrepreneurial spirit and drive to take a product all the way to market themselves, with a minimum of private investment... read more
Marketing to the poor: International Development Enterprises (IDE)
Paul Polak didn’t have to do any of this. At age forty-seven, Polak was a successful Colorado psychiatrist with a wife, three daughters and $3 million in real estate. But in his extensive world travels Polak witnessed more and more the debilitating effects of extreme poverty on the world’s rural poor—who often make less than one dollar a day—and became curious about ways to help... read more
A failure success story: John Fabel
The story of John Fabel teaches us that when it comes to entrepreneurial endeavors, failure isn’t always a bad thing: new opportunities arise, lessons are learned, people move forward. In this profile we take you through John’s story, from invention to incorporation to bankruptcy to eventual success, and find out what he learned along the way... read more
Open to learn: Evan Edwards and EpiCard
Evan Edwards knows a thing or two about business plans. The recipient of an NCIIA Advanced E-Team grant in 2000, Edwards has been working toward commercializing his invention—a credit-card-sized epinephrine injector for people with severe allergies, dubbed the “EpiCard”—for the past few years. We spoke with Edwards about what goes into a business plan, the lessons he’s learned about writing them, and his advice for nascent inventors looking to build a company around a new technology... read more
Insulating your home with...mushrooms?
Open up the walls of just about any new home and you’ll find the same thing: two sheets of plywood sandwiching an insulating foam core. Known as Structural Insulating Panels, or SIPS, the approach is gaining popularity in the building industry because it’s cheap and effective. Unfortunately the foam insulation in SIPS is also environmentally damaging, requiring petroleum to produce, and it isn’t biodegradable, eventually ending up in landfills... read more
Whole Tree taking a wholly different approach
A standard approach to dealing with problems in the developing world is to develop a specific solution to a specific problem: if people lack access to potable water, you develop a water filter for them to buy and use. Need lighting? Manufacture and sell solar lamps. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, Whole Tree, Inc., a former Baylor University E-Team and the first recipient of Venture Well investment funding (see sidebar on page 4), is using a different tactic: alleviating poverty by providing access to huge markets in the US and abroad... read more
As part of a restructuring effort, the technology and commercialization program at Boston University seeks to design and implement anew mentoring program. While students teams are currently mentored by BU faculty, this new program will match teams with technical and business leaders for new venture formation. Project goals include recruiting and training volunteer mentors to link with student E-Teams; providing selected teams with grants for the development of preliminary prototypes, business plans, and funding strategies; and developing metrics to measure the impact of alternative mentoring techniques through case studies.
With the purpose of addressing the astounding rates at which children in developing countries die each year due to lack of access to health technologies (often due to ineffective and unsustainable distribution systems), the Rice Institute for Global Health Technologies and Graduate School of Management will create a new technology commercialization course. The new course will focus on bringing engineering students who have already designed new health technologies with MBA students to develop business plans for these technologies in low-resource settings. Students will receive field experience in a developing country to gather information and identify local entrepreneurs and partners, and will produce and implement businesses to disseminate their technologies in developing countries.
This program will build on the success of a past course in technology commercialization course offered in spring 2009. In the course, four teams of MBA students developed business plans for assigned health technologies (created by Rice engineering students). With private philanthropic support, the students traveled to Rwanda during spring break and met with government officials and potential consumers from hospitals and clinics with the purpose of determining market size, potential consumers, price points, and product marketability. The new course will allow engineering and MBA students to work closely together in an interdisciplinary educational experience. MBA students will travel to Rwanda again in spring 2010, expanding on the business plans of former teams and developing plans for new products.
Over the past six years, the University of Central Florida has expanded its technical entrepreneurship resources for students. NCIIA funding has helped to support this expansion with two course and program grants, one for the Entrepreneurship Field Project course in technology entrepreneurship and the other for the Genesis E-Teams Program coordinated by the UCF Venture Lab. The program has spawned several E-Team ventures in partnership with the UCF Solar Energy Center, UCF Stormwater Management Academy, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Florida Solar Energy Center. One team received first place in the UCF business plan competition.
Now UCF proposes to develop Pathways to Commercialization, a course to help engineering, business, and science students develop raw technical ideas into viable product concepts and build them into business propositions. In the course, multidisciplinary student teams will identify promising intellectual property through the UCF Office of Research and Commercialization. The teams will research the commercial potential of the intellectual property and develop commercialization plans. During the course, teams will attend relevant lectures and network with successful entrepreneurs, lenders, and investors.
This team will address two needs in the area of technology commercialization: interdisciplinary learning opportunities for undergraduates and hands-on experience in new product development/new company creation. Specifically, bringing clean energy innovations to a path of commercialization is the primary focus of the student-driven commercialization program. The program involves three partners: the MSU College of Business, College of Engineering, and TechRanch. 20 of the companies launched by TechRanch are based on MSU technology. The MSU College of Business, College of Engineering, and TechRanch have received financial support from such sources as NIH, NS, USDA, and SBA, among others. The commercialization program will draw from existing MSU entrepreneurship courses and will focus on training in the areas of bootstrapping, the commercialization process, and work plans. Through the involvement of TechRanch, commercial activity will be supported by management personnel, angel investors, and government-based resources.
Ohio State University is one of the nation's leading research and development institutions, but it lags behind other state institutions in terms of technology commercialization. The number of new ventures created at the university is relatively low, and there is little or no formal venture capital invested in the region. OSU's Center for Entrepreneurship works to stimulate economic growth and development in Ohio and the greater Midwest through technology commercialization, new company formation, and improving the competitive performance of entrepreneurial firms, and is also responsible for designing and administering the university's entrepreneurship education program. The Center is currently working to create an interdisciplinary, graduate-level education and outreach program in technology entrepreneurship and commercialization (TEC). The TEC works to access new and emerging technologies through strategic partnerships with leading research centers/programs at Ohio State, top research institutions throughout the region, and select businesses dependent upon the industry base and technology platforms in the region; create market opportunities and development strategies through an interdisciplinary, graduate-level curriculum that provides advanced training in sourcing unique technologies and developing commercialization strategies for the greatest market potential; and drive technologies to market through a dynamic, web-enabled business support network that identifies key players and provides access to the critical resources needed in real time.
The graduate-level curriculum is comprised of four required courses, including Foundations of Technology Venturing, the Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Practicum 1 (Technology Commercializtion) and 2 (Technology Entrepreneurship), and one advanced elective. NCIIA funds support the development of the lab- or experience-based tech commercialization practicum, a two-course sequence that provides graduate students of all disciplines the opportunity to conduct professional, cross-disciplinary assessments of the commercial applications and market opportunities of live, cutting-edge technologies.
University of Massachusetts - Lowell, 2005 - $16,500
Faculty at UMass Lowell has developed the UMass Commercialization Lab program (UMCL) to close a gap between the university's inventions and its ability to attract enough resources for commercialization. The Lowell campus created the Commercial Venture Development program in 1998 to serve the needs of early stage companies. The university operates the business incubator with the condition that the companies hire students. More than a dozen companies have come through the CVD program, with a resulting $80 million in venture capital and institutional investments. While the program has been successful, the university is looking for a substantial increase in the rate of business creation and economic development.
The mission of the UMCL is to convert intellectual property into sustainable businesses through educational programs, research and community outreach.
Under the UMCL program, two new graduate courses have been developed as the core of the Certificate in New Venture Creation program. The certificate program is aimed at graduate students in all disciplines with an interest in entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. One of the two courses focuses on adding value to a technology innovation through development of product platforms, project management, and exploration of sustainable production. The second is a hands-on "practicum" that allows student teams to take an idea and move it to a viable business.
Over the past five years Case Western Reserve has pioneered innovative graduate programs in science entrepreneurship. The programs, called collectively the Science Entrepreneurship Programs (SEP), are a collaboration between the Weatherhead School of Management and the College of Arts and Sciences. The programs (in physics, statistics, biology, and chemistry) have been rated among the top ten entrepreneur programs in the world by the Financial Times.
However, with the appointment of a new dean to the business school, 80 percent of the entrepreneurship faculty abruptly left the university. The business school is rebuilding its entrepreneurship faculty, but with a different emphasis. The College of Arts and Sciences has committed to maintaining the SEP, and, with this NCIIA project, is helping restructure and strengthen the program.
The goal is to modify the curriculum and review and improve existing SEP practices outside of the core courses. Part of the curriculum modification is to include a practical overview of business principals, including accounting, budgeting, marketing and analysis in one of the program's required courses. Another component of the two-year master's program is the formation of E-Teams. E-Teams are formed with students, mentors and established businesses. The Commercialization Agent Program matches students with researchers, companies, and/or investment firms to help in developing entrepreneurial ideas. SEP hopes to expand and formalize the role of the Commercialization Agent to help recruit more outside partners to match with E-Teams.
SEP will also develop programs that involve people from the business and high-tech communities in the courses, as guest speakers, entrepreneur-in-residence, etc. Other improvements include increasing ties to local organizations dedicated to global awareness and encouraging students to volunteer as business plan coaches in inner-city Cleveland schools.
This grant supports the University of Oklahoma's Entrepreneurial Field Studies course, developed by faculty from the College of Business's Entrepreneurship Center, which provides students with opportunities to apply concepts mastered in previous business courses while they work to develop intellectual property generated at the university. Student E-Teams work closely with the inventor of a product or service to bring previously shelved ideas to commercialization, with the ultimate goal of increasing wealth in the state of Oklahoma. Self-forming student teams choose intellectual property projects to undertake from several local institutions, including the office of Oklahoma Technology Development (OTD), the Noble Foundation, and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). The IP selection criteria include its ability to address social issues through technologies that solve critical problems and meet basic human needs. The scope of the teams due diligence generally involves research into the feasibility of commercializing patented IP, market research surrounding a new IP, or the development of a business plan for new IP.
The class will has an enrollment of twenty-four students, divided into eight E-Teams. Each E-Team is composed of three graduate students and a mentor, integral to the team's activities. The students learn entrepreneurial evaluation processes in the classroom, partially through guest speakers, then execute due diligence on their chosen product in the field, working with the inventor to determine the market applications of the invention and the opportunity and feasibility of the proposed application. At the end of the semester, student teams complete a business plan and present it to a group of panelists from venture capital and private equity firms in the culminating business plan competition. Students involved in the competition gain access to networks of successful entrepreneurs, lenders and investors, team-building opportunities, business planning skills, and media exposure. At the course's conclusion, they may form a company or perform as marketing agents on behalf of the university's Office of Technology Development, receiving twenty percent of gross royalties.
The Marquette University College of Engineering is developing Strategic Technology Planning and Development, a new course in the field of engineering entrepreneurship. The course focuses on developing technology that will be appropriate and available for product transfer at the moment it is needed. The course organizes students into E-Teams with the goal of producing a strategic development plan for a new technology-based business opportunity. The opportunity may be original to the team, or may derive from current college R&D programs. To stimulate commercialization of resulting opportunities, E-Teams are entered into the annual Golden Angels Network business plan contest.
Each four to six person E-Team consists of students, faculty members, and industry experts. Students learn through lectures, discussions, projects, and presentations. Once established, the course will fill a core role in the university's Engineering Management Program.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Mon, 04/27/2009 - 15:45
Sign up now for the new BioScience Advanced Invention to Venture workshop, scheduled for May 28-30 at Creighton University in partnership with Nebraska Medical School.
The three-day, intensive workshop is designed for scientists, student or faculty-led E-Teams, and researchers focused on licensing or commercializing bioscience projects, medical products or services. The BioAI2V program enables participants to more quickly develop a licensing plan or launch a new company by providing instruction, exercises, pitching opportunities and coaching complete with real-time feedback from coaches and investors. By the end of the workshop, participants will have a complete commercialization plan and be able to deliver a pitch-ready PowerPoint presentation to investors and/or strategic partners. Individuals interested in learning more about this program should contact NCIIA.
This grant will help expand a pilot program in a graduate-level biomedical engineering course by offering additional resources to design teams: equipment, materials, supplies, prototyping funds, and expert lecturers and consultants. During this year-long class, students are completely responsible for idea generation, prototype development and commercialization planning. They are exposed to an entrepreneurial environment and gain entrepreneurial skills not traditionally taught or integrated into university coursework.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Tue, 04/07/2009 - 18:08
Last week about 40 of the nation's brightest chemistry talents attended the NCIIA's first Research to Invention workshop in Cambridge, Mass., to learn how to view their research and science from a market-focused lens.
Here's what CalTech CCI Solar team members Weihua Wang and Josh Spurgeon had to say about R2I:
On April 2-4, I participated in the Research to Innovation Workshop in Cambridge, MA. This great training program taught us how to view our science from a “market lens”. For the first time, I started to look at my research from a different point of view and started to relate it with the concepts that I had never thought about before, such as “market segment”, “value chain”, “technology transfer”… It was kind of exciting. Just as mentioned on the CCI website, this workshop offered us a unique opportunity to interact with experts in technology innovation and transfer and to learn the fundamentals of effective research translation and innovation. It helps me begin to set up new goals for future research.
According to Josh they "learned in much greater detail about intellectual property and how it works at universities. Likewise, I learnt what patents are good for and how university tech transfer offices can help you get one by first applying for a provisional patent before you publish, then moving on to apply for a real patent within one year. We learned about the business vocabulary involved in starting a new company, including evaluating your place in a value chain, determining your market segments, and choosing how to structure your venture. We also learned about the different options for obtaining financing for a new company like government organizations, venture capital firms, and business plan competitions. We also talked in depth about forming a team and the attributes you would want in your team members."