Steve Blank, an entrepreneur, investor and educator from Stanford writes about the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps on his blog.
This is an extremely interesting idea, and one which is somewhat similar, albeit on a larger scale, to our ownTechnology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme. As he describes it, the NSF Innovation Corps is an incubator for scientists, where they take their basic research developments and look at commercialization opportunities, and ultimately to prepare them to attract external private (Venture Capital) funding.
63 scientists and engineers in 21 teams made ~2,000 customer calls in 10 weeks, turning laboratory ideas into formidable startups. 19 of the 21 teams are moving forward in commercializing their technology.
The 3-person teams consisted of Principal Investigators (PI’s), mostly tenured professors (average age of 45,) whose NSF research the project was based on. The PI’s in turn selected one of their graduate students (average age of 30,) as the entrepreneurial lead. The PI and Entrepreneurial Lead were supported by a mentor (average age of 50,) with industry/startup experience.