October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

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5 Amazing College Incubators-Forbes

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

Millennial entrepreneurs don’t have to choose between getting a degree and starting a business. In fact, you will be more likely to succeed as an entrepreneur if you launch your next idea inside of a university-located incubator. This is according to a study of more than 150 university incubators and almost 900 companies, which found that university-incubated businesses created more jobs and generated more sales than those incubated elsewhere.

You are especially likely to hit the ground running if you launch from Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania. StartU covers the exceptional activities of these particular universities and their incubators, which all have incredible access to funding, collaborators, and resources.

Here’s a rundown of these university incubators. Use your knowledge about successful companies and available resources at these universities to match yourself to your dream college or MBA program.

University of California, Berkeley

The Berkeley SkyDeck fund offers up to $100,000 for companies accepted to their six-month cohort program. Recipients get $50,000 upon acceptance and $50,000 at the 3-month mark offered via a SAFE note with no discount. The incubator also offers to invest up to 10% in the first funding round, with a $2 million cap. Companies can use the financing on a range of business activities, such as hiring, product development and marketing.

At Berkeley, check out Flourish, a personal finance engagement platform, Empire Biotechnologies, which has developed a therapeutic drug for the digestive system, Cooljamm, a company that created AI for music composition, and Chameleon Biosciences, a company seeking to pioneer gene therapy.

Harvard University

For current Harvard students, the Venture Incubation Program (VIP) within Harvard’s Innovation Lab fund is a 12-week program with mentoring and resources. Harvard’s Innovation Lab also hosts the President’s Innovation Challenge, where students can win funding money of up to $75,000 for a great idea. Judging criteria includes viability, empathy, rigor, ingenuity, traction, economics, and impact.

For Harvard alumni, there’s also Launch Lab X which is the Harvard alumni incubator wherein alumni get to compete for $100,000 in funding.

VIP-backed ventures include LeverEdge , which negotiates better rates on student loans,  STEMgem, which creates wearable smart device kits that help to mentor grade school students, and Evisort (whose founders made Forbes 30 Under 30), which uses AI to improve the user experience on legal documents.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT)’s delta v is an educational startup accelerator for student entrepreneurs to build viable, sustainable businesses. MIT students get customized, intensive coaching and mentoring, networking opportunities, and funding through summer programming in NYC and at MIT.

Delta v provides up to $20,000 equity-free additional funding for each venture (achievement-based), $2,000 per month for living expenses, and the chance to pitch to investors at MIT Demo Days. This program is especially geared to early-stage startups.

Some companies recently out of the MIT program are Embr Labs, which is creating wearable heating and cooling technology, W8X, which is bringing strength training enabled by robotics to your home, and Synapse, which is using AI and deep learning in x-ray security screenings to identify contraband.

Stanford University

Stanford has StartX, a nonprofit which claims it is not an accelerator, but a community. There are no time limits, companies do give up equity, and it’s not a boot camp.

StartX has the Student-in-Residence (SIR) program for current Stanford students, which is a six-month program offering up to $8,000 in financial aid per founder as well as dedicated office space, customized coaching and mentorship, an Investor Day Demo, and a conversion path into StartX full-time. Full-time StartX companies raise an average of $7.2 million in funding.

StartX-supported companies include NALA, which creates offline mobile payments for those in Sub-Saharan Africa, MylaBox, which enables B2C international commerce, and MindRight, which helps teenagers manage trauma through personalized, daily, evidence-informed mental health coaching over text messaging.

University of Pennsylvania

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) offers a ton of resources for students, including entrepreneurship classes in the school curriculum, specialized entrepreneurship classes on Coursera, which anyone can audit for free, a Scale School workshop series in San Francisco to help startups transition from small startup to a large enterprise, and more.

UPenn also hosts an annual StartUP Challenge, where student entrepreneurs can compete to win up to $135,000 in cash and prizes to help launch their venture.

Its incubator, VIP-C, is open to any entrepreneurs with a great idea. The most dedicated startups in VIP-C are invited to join VIP-X, a three-month intensive program with resources and mentorship to take your business to the next level. It includes seed funding, coworking space, workshops and access to guest speakers.

Startups include Titan, which is building the first actively-managed investment fund accessible to the masses, InstaHub, which is an at-home sensor that helps consumers reduce their energy bill, and Frank, an online platform designed to facilitate applying for federal financial aid for college.

Your Biggest Opportunity

As an aspiring entrepreneur, make sure to look into colleges and universities that will give you the best chance at entrepreneurial success. Remember that you can’t make magically fit yourself to one of these colleges, and that these colleges are some of the most selective in the world. But you can make strategic and wise decisions about where to apply (and how to position yourself as an applicant) when you consider both the colleges’ priorities and your own.

Looking at the structure of resources at the incubators and which companies have become successful can help you understand the individual university’s values and priorities (and you can bet the colleges are looking to admit students that help them meet these priorities!).


Source: 5 Amazing College Incubators

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