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.