Tech Transfer eNews Blog

In an unusual move, U of Arkansas uses sports revenues to support innovation fund

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 5th, 2017

University of Arkansas (UA) Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz has launched a fund for faculty-run startups that will be partly supported by the university’s sports revenues.

The $1 million Discovery, Creativity, Innovation and Collaboration Fund is designed to boost innovation on campus and foster opportunities for faculty and faculty-student collaboration. The funding will come partly from SEC Network revenues, an unusual source for technology-related funds.

The SEC Network brings in revenue from on-air sports events in the Southeastern Conference. The network splits the revenue between schools in the conference. This money typically goes back into the athletics programs for new facilities or sports-based scholarships. In 2015, $436.8 million went to SEC schools, each receiving $31.2 million, according to a USA Today article.

“We’re really fortunate that we have an athletics department that doesn’t collect money from us but actually gives money back,” says Steinmetz.

The new UA fund would grant individual projects $50,000 per year for up to three years. This would enable faculty members and students with promising innovations to seek funding from organizations like the National Science Foundation after taking advantage of the UA-SEC financing.

While the fund will focus primarily on science and engineering projects, Steinmetz is determined to spread the money across multiple departments and UA colleges. “My goal is to make sure we’re seeding this innovation across campus, not concentrating it in a few areas,” he says.

Source: The Arkansas Traveler

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