The University of Connecticut was recently recognized as a National Science Foundation I-Corps Site (NSF) and will receive a grant of $300,000 distributed over the next three years, according to a press release.
NSF’s I-Corps program focuses on fostering entrepreneurship that will lead to the development of technological advancements. Institutions recognized by this program are those that incorporate teams that are committed to strengthening local innovations, according to the press release.
UConn submitted a proposal for the grant in June 2014 and was one of thirteen universities in the United States to receive the award. One hundred thousand dollars will be awarded every year for the next three years.
Dr. Timothy Folta, Faculty Director of the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI), said the award will fund Accelerate UConn, a program implemented by the Office of Research and the CCEI, in an effort to build up “new and existing expertise and infrastructure, ongoing and new entrepreneurial programs, as well as new state economic development initiatives.”
Accelerate UConn will be co-developed under the direction of Dr. Jeff Seemann, Vice President for Research and Principal Investigator for the grant, and Dr. Folta as Co-Principal Investigator.
Training faculty members for start-up programs under the grant will be a primary use for the award money. Lean Start-Up training methods – the standard entrepreneurial training for NSF programs – will be used.
“A key reason we were given the award is that we have faculty and staff capable of delivering this training,” Folta said.
Seventy percent of the award money will be dedicated to start-up grants for students and faculty, with up to $3,000 allotted to each team. The goal is to inspire faculty and student teams to carry out projects that that solve customer needs, Folta said.
“This award will benefit the entire university and the state,” Folta said.
The demand for students and faculty members to form teams under this grant will target the Storrs campus, all five regional campuses, the UConn Law School, the UConn Health Center and the Hartford Business Learning Center, Folta said.
“We will continue to work with existing internal partners and expand our network of external ones to enrich our entrepreneurial ecosystem and create opportunities for our startups,” Folta said.
The grant went into effect on Feb. 15 and will end on Jan. 31, 2018.