Connecticut Innovation Fund Supports Student Entrepreneurs

students_entrepreneurs

(Photo: Youth Entrepreneurship Summit)

The University of Connecticut, in partnership with Connecticut Innovations (CI) and Webster Bank, has designed a $1.5 million Innovation Fund to supply university-affiliated businesses with financial aid in the early stages of their development. The plan is to offer help that the businesses need to grow and remain in the state.

The fund will give up to $100,000 for any student, faculty member, or alumnus with an “in-state business startup tied to research, advanced technologies or innovations developed at UConn,” according to a press release.

The recipients will be chosen based on determinants such as the strength of the company, its current resources, ground-breaking technology, the likelihood of commercialization, and potential for securing supplementary external funding. Companies will also receive patenting and licensing support, business incubator locations, and other assistance from the university, reports Campus Technology’s Rhea Kelly.

“This fund is designed to provide the important early financial support UConn students, faculty and alumni need to commercialize new technologies and succeed in today’s highly competitive business environment,” said UConn Vice President for Research Jeffrey Seemann.

A UConn Evaluation Board, fund managers, and an investment committee from UConn, Connecticut Innovations (CI), and Webster Bank representatives will manage the Innovation Fund.

Webster Bank, located in Waterbury, Connecticut, will provide banking and financial expertise to give startup companies a leg up. CI will be providing the money for the fund. UConn and Webster Bank will also be investors and limited partners in the fund.

CI Chief Executive Officer Matt McCooe said his colleagues were eager to see how the Innovation Fund would enhance the state’s economic future, according to Luther Turmelle for the New Haven Register. CI is the state’s quasi-public venture capital and lending investment fund.

Senior Vice President of Webster Bank’s “emerging growth” banking group explained that the investment in new enterprises would help communities come alive by adding jobs that create growth and diversifying the state’s economy.

And at North Carolina State University as well, some solid support is being offered to student entrepreneurs. Chip Andrews, retired former chairperson and CEO of FMI Corporation, a leading management consulting, investment banking, and people development firm in the construction and engineering industry, has donated $1 million to establish the NC State Acceleration Fund. The gift, hopes Andrews, will make a significant impact on young people and economic development.

Andrews and his wife Lyn hope that deserving students with big ideas can learn from those who have experience and knowledge and will act as investors and mentors.

Many millennials are passionate, creative, and driven to begin their personal ventures, but need access to funding, to learn how to attract investors, and to pay off student debts. The Acceleration Fund is going to help improve entrepreneurs’ chances.

The program will be managed through the NC State Entrepreneur Clinic, a fast-growing part of the Poole College of Management. Grant recipients can be juniors, seniors, graduate students, or recent graduates from any curriculum at the University.

Five finalists will be interviewed for this first year’s grant, and one or more grants will be awarded. A total of $50,000 will be allocated.

Another component of the program will be a three-month “boot camp” that beneficiaries must finish. The Andrews Launch Accelerator will give grantees educational and coaching support from successful local entrepreneurs, along with free legal, accounting, and talent acquisition services. They will also have access to office space.

“We want students to be successful and we want them to stay here,” says Chip Andrews.