A new source of proof-of-concept funding has been established to help University of Nevada, Reno faculty, students, staff and recent graduates determine if their technologies and business ideas have commercialization potential and help them navigate the gap between concept validation and obtaining seed funding for their venture. Applications are being accepted through Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2016, for the pilot year and program of the InNEVenture Fund.
The InNEVenture Fund process is open to entrepreneurial efforts across all of the University's colleges and schools, and teams or opportunities that represent diversity or a multidisciplinary approach are especially encouraged to apply.
Supported by the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the State of Nevada Knowledge Fund, the InNEVenture Fund totals $100,000 and is poised to make investments of varying sizes up to that amount in its pilot year. These investments are anticipated to contribute to the successful formation of a business by supporting aspects such as oversight, management, market research, development of first-runs or prototypes, or market testing.
The two-step application process begins with an online application (nvric.org/inneventure-fund) through which applicants explain their business concept. A committee of judges from outside the University will choose which applicants will move to the second round and make a more detailed business case for proof-of-concept funding. Investments will be made at the end of November.
"This is about encouraging commercialization, removing the obstacle of funding and providing support that leads to a successful product, service or business," Mridul Gautam, vice president for research and innovation, said. "It's a partnership, and the success benefits the researcher or entrepreneur, the continued development of the University and, ultimately, society."
The criteria for InNEVenture Fund consideration includes:
- The company or potential company supports the University's entrepreneurial ecosystem; the InNEVenture Fund will support University-owned technologies that are or will be licensed to startup companies created by faculty or staff.
- The applicant must articulate a vision, while also remaining open to the necessary overlay of management involvement and mentorship that will contribute to success.
- The proposed product or service fills a gap in the market and has potential for growth.
- The potential for intellectual property is strong.
- The InNEVenture Fund is offered through the Nevada Research and Innovation Corporation, recently created to promote research, discovery, innovation and commercialization at the University of Nevada, Reno. NRIC has the capability of holding equity and will expedite commercialization and movement of research discoveries and intellectual property. NRIC is guided by a board of directors, chaired by University President Marc Johnson, and includes regional entrepreneurs and University advisors.
"Many of this country's most notable research universities have corporations or foundations of this type," Purpus, who guided development of the corporation, said. "It is a model that has proven to be successful for researchers and entrepreneurs, the universities and regional economies."
"Through this initiative, and during the very early time in the commercialization process, the funding that the Nevada Research and Innovation Corporation will provide will be a significant step to not only validate and assess market potential, but also provide the necessary support to reach prototyping, scale-up and seed-funding stages while spurring a stronger interest in the commercialization of developed technologies and IP among faculty and students alike," Steve Hill, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said.
The InNEVenture Fund and NRIC are part of the University's emerging ecosystem supporting research, faculty competitiveness, commercialization and entrepreneurialism. The InNEVenture Fund and NRIC will be coordinated and integrated with the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center-Powered By Switch, the Nevada Center for Applied Research, the Biosciences Entrepreneurial Lab, Nevada Industry Excellence, Small Business Development Centers and the University's many other innovation-connected services and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
To apply to the InNEVenture Fund, go to nvric.org/inneventure-fund.