Collegiate entrepreneurship centers offer early support to startups • TechCrunch

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It looks like it A lot of startups are born from an idea someone had while studying in college. But what if that initial idea was supported on campus while the dreamer was still enrolled, instead of being polished in an accelerator years later?

For example, David Lynn started a food delivery service called Duffle Two years ago while an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles. The company was part of Y Combinator and raised $13 million. Oculus co-founder Brendan Irib He was a University of Maryland student before starting a startup. Some studies on Image-generating AI models Also coming out of the University of Maryland, quantum chip technology followed EeroQ Derived from Michigan State University research.

We have all heard the success stories Schools like Harvard and Stanford Kicking out the startup founders. While schools often don’t become the next YC, they are looking for ways to get some of the best research-based technology from technology transfer offices and the market. That’s why schools including the University of Maryland, Michigan State University, Ohio State University and UCLA are sinking resources into entrepreneurship programs and centers.

“Our secret sauce is letting students run with their ideas in the ways they want without us pushing them, but supporting them.” Dean Chang of the University of Maryland

The original thinking of many of these centers may have been technology transfer – the process of taking university-backed research to market – but as entrepreneurship became a more viable career path and many sought to work for a startup, many schools were designed. Support for student founders and their community.

I spoke to representatives from those four universities to learn about their entrepreneurship programs and how they’ve found success.

Michigan State University

Jeff Wesley, managing director of Red Cedar Ventures, the venture capital subsidiary of the Michigan State University Research Foundation, said its infrastructure — and the depth and breadth of its team and services — make MSU unique.

“Between the venture capital team and our statewide efforts with funders like Michigan Rise, we’ve invested in 60 early-stage companies, some from universities and some from the Michigan network,” Wesley told TechCrunch. “It’s very active and early-stage focused, and we’re running two accelerator programs.”

It also taps into a large number of entrepreneurs who can bring both how to grow an organization and the ability to use new ideas from faculty, staff and students to turn them into new enterprises.

In terms of investment, the foundation is one of the state’s leading investors — the state of Michigan provides Red Cedar with an installment fund to invest — doubling its capital investment activity in the past few years, Wesley said.

While there are similar programs across the country, Wesley said only recently have universities in the Big 10 come together to share ideas. In November, he traveled to Chicago for the inaugural Big 10 Venture Summit to learn from all the other creative arms, including how states and college alumni support these ventures.

“I can’t believe we’ve never done this before,” he said. “We shared notes and looked at best practices, and after all that, we decided to continue with events like this, where we can really share opportunities and learn approaches taken by different projects.”

As with everything related to startups, funding remains a challenge. “Even with success, early-stage investing is different,” Wesley said. While many schools are tapping alumni and seeking additional support from university administration and various avenues within the state, “obviously, there’s not enough funding to support the efforts, especially cancer treatments, which take a lot of capital,” he added.

Wesley is often asked by other universities how to start a similar program and invest in companies. His biggest suggestion was to build infrastructure around the campus’s research arm and focus on places where they could get initial funding from alumni or the state.


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