VentureWell is a venture development and investor readiness program, intended to help NCIIA E-Teams develop their businesses to the point where they can secure their first formal round of financing.
At this time the VentureWell is designed for for-profit ventures only. Two sector-specific programs will be offered each year: one in late fall for teams working on cleantech devices, and one in the summer for teams working on biomedical and/or health-related devices.
Upcoming VentureWell Programs
The next VentureWell program is being conducted in partnership with Village Capital. This program will be held in Louisiville, Kentucky and focuses on agriculture and cleantech ventures. Learn more and apply today!
A second VentureWell program will be held this summer and is expected to focus on healthcare and medical ventures. More information coming soon.
All VentureWell funded companies were also NCIIA grant recipients in the early stages of their company's development.
IntelliWheels Founded by students at University of Illinois, IntelliWheels is launching a geared replacement wheel for wheelchairs. IntelliWheels received a NCIIA E-Team grant in 2010 and participated in NCIIA's Open Minds exhibition in 2010. The company has just recently raised equity funds from Serra Ventures, VentureWell, and others.
SmarterShadeSmarterShade has a proprietary technology to produce a window that can be adjusted from transparent to opaque, at 1/3 the cost of the competition. The company, which came out of Notre Dame University, received a NCIIA E-Team grant in 2007 and participated in NCIIA's Open Minds exhibition in 2008. They have since received equity funding from VentureWell and others.
Promethean Power A company based in Massachusetts and in India, Promethean Power provides milk cooling and storage equipment to the Indian dairy industry. The genesis of the project was in part funded by a NCIIA E-Team grant received in 2007.
Natural Composites Founded by a student-faculty team at Baylor University, Natural Composites converts agriculture waste such as coconut shell into engineering products, including injection-molded plastics and other products for a range of industries. The team received an E-Team grant in 2006 and participated in NCIIA's Open Minds exhibition in 2008. Since then, the company has gone on to secure over $5+ million.
Therapeutic Systems Founded by a PhD student team from University of Massachusetts Amherst, Therapeutic Systems makes the Vayu Vest, a product for autistic children. Therapeutic Systems received a NCIIA E-Team grant in 2007 and participated in NCIIA's Open Minds exhibition in 2009.
In August of 2009, Stanford University student Ben Cline and D-Rev CEO Krista Donaldson came to the first Sustainable Vision Advanced Invention to Venture (AI2V) workshop in Cambridge. Three years later, their product, Brilliance, a low cost, low maintenance opto-medical device to treat neonatal jaundice, is on the market in India and they are looking to expand to East Africa. Donaldson estimates that early data suggests 13 babies will get treatment per device per month in urban hospitals, which means lives saved and brain damage averted. These results will be closely tracked. Cline’s contribution has been instrumental in early stages of product development of Brilliance. His accomplishments, during later stages, in an advisory role to bring Brilliance to Point-of-Scale are also commendable. His early partnership with D-Rev, was a key factor to this success.
Note: This article has been corrected since its original post to address some factual errors.
Krista Donaldson, D-Rev CEO and Stanford d.school lecturer and Mariana Amatullo, cofounder and vice president of Designmatters at Art Center College of Design were named two of the 50 most influential designers "pushing the boundaries of their discipline into promising new directions."
Donaldson and Amatullo are both past recipients of NCIIA E-Team and Course & Program Grants. Amatullo and her students at Designmatters are responsible for the GiraDora, a manually powered washing machine designed to address issues related to water poverty and a notable entry in Fast Company's 2012 Innovation by Design Awards.
NCIIA funds projects with the potential to change the world and welcomes participation from faculty and students engaged in technology invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. NCIIA places special emphasis on the following sector and market focus areas. Projects outside these areas of focus are also welcome to apply.
Polytorx | Developed Helix, a new steel fiber additive for concrete reinforcement. US market.
Ecovative Design | Developed Ecocradle, a biodegradable alternative to polystyrene/Styrofoam packaging. US market.
Whole Tree | Creates technical innovations (such as auto parts) from renewable natural resources, such as coconut husks. US market (materials sourced from developing markets).
NCIIA has recently placed additional emphasis on the broad cleantech sector. Historically we have seen many cleantech applications to our E-Team Program, in areas like solar lighting, sanitation, water, and engineered products based on agriculture waste material. We currently have special Stage One E-Team Program funding available for projects in this sector. I-Conserve | Wireless sensor that monitors and adjusts household energy use to maximize efficiency. US market.
Greenlight Planet | Solar-charged, battery-powered LED lanterns that are healthier, more economical, less dangerous, and less polluting then petroleum lanterns. Emerging markets.
Solar Ivy | Solar panel array for use on building facades. US market.
Twig Light (Daylight Solutions) | Uses existing waste energy to produce clean electric light inside homes. Emerging markets.
Afghan briquettes project (Afghans for Tomorrow) | School-based initiative that provides classes and lessons for children, and also teaches children to produce fuel briquettes as a business opportunity.
Antenatal screening kit | Delivers low-cost healthcare to women in remote locations, using a variety of custom markers pre-filled with reagents for screening tests. Piloted in Nepal.
Global Healthare Technologies Program | Course at Northwestern University where students work with front-line healthcare workers to design medical devices specifically for the developing world.
NCIIA is an active supporter of university biomedical engineering programs. We run two competitions for biomedical engineering students, BMEStart and BMEIdea, from which many students progress to our E-Team Program. Many of our E-Team Program reviewers bring technical expertise in biomedical engineering, ensuring appropriate grant application assessments.
Intelliject | Convenient epinephrine auto-injector that can be carried in a wallet. US market.
Marrowminer | Innovative device and method for rapidly harvesting bone marrow and the stem cells bone marrow contains.
Onebreath | Low-cost ventilator for use in developing nations and disaster relief efforts.
PneumoniaCheck | Effective and inexpensive device for obtaining samples to test for pneumonia. Emerging markets.
NCIIA and its VentureWell subsidiary are excited to announce a partnership with Village Capital to produce an educational program for innovators and entrepreneurs seeking early stage financing. Village Capital/VentureWell will provide a group of up to 15 teams with two intensive three-day sessions separated by eight weekly webinars. The program will start in Boston on November 29, and conclude with the peer selection of the two teams that merit investment of $50,000 each.
Attention E-Teams! The Village Capital/VentureWell program is restricted to for-profit ventures and is ideally suited for E-Teams that have received and largely executed upon E-Team grant funding milestones. The focus of the current program is on IT and cleantech ventures, as well as those at the intersection of IT and cleantech, with a focus on serving low-resource populations in the U.S. or customers in emerging markets. Future programs are expected to focus on other sectors such as medical products.
Visit venturewell.org and select Village Capital for more information on Village Capital/VentureWell - Boston.
WHAT STUDENT AMBASSADORS HAVE SAID ABOUT PARTICIPATION:
"I formed a coalition of student leaders in entrepreneurship. This facilitated greater communication between groups and allowed our first annual Undergraduate Entrepreneurship week to be a success." -Maggie, Duke University, 2011 cohort
"The University has acknowledged our work and the engineering school is very impressed by the thought of spreading "new ideas and innovation" in the campus. TedxColumbiaEngineeringSchool which was the I2V event here at Columbia has gained high popularity and the school has decided to organize this event every year now, many department are showing their interest to host this event under their umbrella."-Mayank, Columbia University, 2011 cohort
"I have been able to really analyze the entrepreneurial activities on campus and how collaborations can increase participation. I helped develop a program that will be implemented this fall called the Weatherford Garage that will bring entrepreneurial minds together in an intense yearlong program on running a business. This gives a new level to our already successful entrepreneurial programs for freshman engagement."-Jenny, Oregon State University 2011 cohort
"Everyone who attended TEDxBU “Students Startup America” said is was great – informative and inspirational." -Joe, Boston University, 2012 cohort "The Art Center College of Design is a school full of genuine curiosity, sparking creativity and directed passion, which makes it an incubator for potential young entrepreneurial spirits. The $50 Challenge was an event created to highlight these qualities and inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow." -Marianna, Art Center College of Design 2012 cohorT
"It has been an exciting month at the University of Texas. Just in time for National Entrepreneurship Week, I hosted Michael Dell at an interactive event discussing his experiences beginning a startup in college and becoming the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company. It was a full house! 477 excited students, faculty, and community members crowded in to hear Mr. Dell be interviewed by Dr. Bob Metcalfe, inventor of ethernet, founder of 3Com Corp., former partner at Polaris Ventures, and current professor of innovation at UT-Austin." -Mariel, University of Texas at Austin 2012 cohort
WHAT THEY'VE SAID ABOUT TRAINING:
"Meeting the other students and hearing their stories. It's very motivating, and I think even more valuable than any other aspect of training when you're working with a new group. The team building day at the ropes course was a huge help in accomplishing a connection within the group."
"Bringing together such an amazing group of staff and students to increase our networks and learn about the entrepreneurial activities going on on campuses around the US."
"The networking opportunity with the other great NCIIA Student Ambassadors. Created a sense of urgency to do extremely well since the group was exceptional. Sparked passion."
"I had a great time. Everyone was fantastic. I can't wait to get back to campus and blow people away."
"The teamwork and collaboration between NCIIA staff and new student ambassadors to layout a plan for building entrepreneurship at each of our Universities."
WHY IS THE TRAINING MANDATORY FOR NEW STUDENT AMBASSADORS?
The training for Student Ambassadors is essential for the strong start of one's Student Ambassadorship. The three-day training covers topics as diverse as:
Common issues and dynamics of the campus ecosystem
How to organize a winning TEDx or I2V event
What is a SPARK* and how do I develop one?
Conducting a landscape analysis
And much much more!
In addition, the opportunity to hear from other Student Ambassadors about their campus environment enables students to benchmark best practices and bring back implementable solutions. The entire cohort of Student Ambassadors form a close bond that is maintained throughout the year, proving to be an important network of ideas, advice and support.
Read what past Student Ambassadors have said about training.
*Exercises designed to catalyze innovation and creativity
In Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS), faculty and students pursue mission-based teaching, research, and outreach that address real-world problems. However, only a few students who major in agriculture, food and related disciplines demonstrate significant enthusiasm for creating their own companies and pursuing entrepreneurship after graduation. SEBS currently offers no undergraduate courses on entrepreneurship specifically targeted at Production Agriculture and Food.
This grant supports the creation of Entrepreneurial Agriculture (EA), a course designed to promote value creation in production agriculture and food processing through E-Teams. In the course, students will learn the basics of entrepreneurship and come up with an innovation in Production Ag and Food. In addition, EA students will be able to participate in a competitive summer internship program focused on the food/ag industry, receiving hands-on experience and learning which new inventions could add value. Students will compete by presenting a product or service idea that they would like to explore through a hands-on summer internship. The internships are not job placement opportunities; rather, students will have the real world experience in their area of interest and be encouraged to come back to school post internship and be supported to develop new products and ventures. Finally, the grant will support Rutgers’ Students E-Team (RUSTET), a club whose mission will be to promote entrepreneurship in production agriculture and food processing.
Dominican University of California, 2012 - $29,050
This grant will provide a structured platform for Dominican University (DU) Chemistry majors and MBA students to collaborate on opportunities for research, development, and commercialization of “green chemistry”-related products. The new courses will encourage students to focus their chemistry research on sustainable solutions to environmental issues. The collaboration between science and MBA students will lead to the creation of E-Teams and business plans. The E-Teams will use the Venture Greenhouse, a DU business accelerator and incubator program, to learn how to take their projects out of the lab and into the market. An initial focal area of research for students will be the potential for biofuels derived from algae. If successful, the program will move to expand the focus to other topics in green chemistry. This program is also answering a demand from MBA students without a science background who want to engage with and gain experience working in the green sector.
The Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (ELP) at Tufts educates undergraduate students in arts, sciences and engineering on the principles of entrepreneurship. Since the ELP started in 2002, over 375 students have completed the minor. But while the program is popular, students enrolled in it currently lack the resources and opportunity to build prototypes and the program has had very few engineering students (1 in 10). The students learn about the business side of entrepreneurship, but rarely move their products beyond paper designs in class.
The goal of this grant is to combine the BotLAB, an on-campus workshop developed by mechanical engineering students with a focus on robotics, with the ELP to create the iLab or inventor's lab. Students from different disciplines will work together to invent and fabricate ideas and then attempt to take them to market by teaming with other students with the necessary expertise. Funding will go toward running competitions and developing a scaffold of curricular and advising assistance to help students productize and commercialize their ideas.