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University incubators becoming more than micro Silicon Valleys

By David Schwartz
Published: August 5th, 2009

Incubators located on university campuses are becoming ideal breeding grounds for companies, with ecosystems that contain technology, industry experts, scientists, researchers, business minds, entrepreneurs, research grants, and legal advice from TTOs. Consider the Georgia Institute of Technology, where the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) has helped to launch more than 120 startups that, combined, have raised more than a billion dollars in outside funding and produced millions in revenues. In addition, the statewide VentureLab program, which helps companies spin out of universities and commercialize cutting-edge research, has launched more than 150 companies. Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech’s vice provost, rejects the notion that university incubators — Georgia Tech in particular — are simply becoming micro Silicon Valleys. “We’re pretty confident we can do just fine without constantly measuring ourselves against Silicon Valley,” he says, expanding on that notion in his blog. Nevertheless, Fleming concedes that “the startup market has changed over the past few years. Many startup companies do not want or need to pursue venture funding. Some are not even seeking traditional office space. ATDC’s new initiatives directly address the demands of today’s startup environment.” Here’s how:

  1. SeedSpace: ATDC is expanding its “SeedSpace” of single-office leases for early-stage entrepreneurs and providing a variety of co-working spaces to promote casual interaction among all entrepreneurs.
  2. Experience: Roberto Casas, a previous assistant director of VentureLab, explains that, “by working at the very earliest stage with university spinouts — not just pre-revenue but pre-incorporation — we have learned a great deal about the coaching required by entrepreneurial teams that are still establishing their business model.”
  3. Funding: Georgia Tech has nearly $500 million in research funding, according to Fleming. The SBIR Assistance Program of Georgia — part of VentureLab — has helped hundreds of Georgia entrepreneurs obtain more than $30 million in federal awards. In addition to funding, the program helps entrepreneurs interact with state and local governments — interaction that helps them to comply with state and federal regulations.
  4. Knowledge: The incubator’s university setting offers an abundant supply of academics, research, and technology, helping to broaden the knowledge base and provide more comprehensive services for technology entrepreneurs.
  5. Recruiting: University incubators boast a wealth of experienced professionals, including scientists, researchers, academics, faculty entrepreneurs, and industry experts, as well as students who are eager to get involved in startups or start their own.

Source: College Mogul

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