Research Institution Tech + Startup Gap Fund & Accelerator Programs

Translational Research  |  Proof of Concept  |  Startup and Venture Funds and Support

October 18-20, 2023

Tuscon, AZ
presented by

Why Covergence?

The lack of true early-stage capital and innovation developmental support is a major challenge in advancing promising university technology from the lab to commercial and investment partners.

Research institutions are leading through the implementation of university gap funding (proof of concept, startup, venture) and accelerator programs to bridge this “valley of death”. Over the past 15 years, these programs have evolved into sophisticated investment, evaluation, development, and commercialization support mechanisms to nurture the most promising opportunities in emerging, high-growth technology areas.

Smart companies and investors are taking notice and making it a strategic, external innovation and investment priority to partner with these university gap fund and accelerator programs through applied research, proof of concept projects, corporate venture investments, and advisory/mentorship in return for insights, competitive positioning, and access to future technology and start-ups.

COVERGENCE is where we meet, learn, and talk about what we can do together to catalyze innovation through university gap fund and accelerator programs.

Right People

University POC/startup/venture GAP programs, corporate innovation, and investment leaders converge to share and learn about early stage innovation trends,  collaboration practices and emerging IP, proof of concept projects, and startups 

Right SIze

We all know that oversubscribed events lead to many hit-miss, high-level exchanges. Our strategy is to go targeted to allow everyone to meet and forge foundational relationships. We do this by making sure that we are inviting the right people to fill those seats.

Right Content

GAP Core Content
Sessions and discussions led by fund managers and leaders focused on best practice areas and common challenges (directed at GAP fund managers)

GAP Program / Portfolio Briefs
Partnering space available for university leaders to host 30-min overviews of their GAP programs and portfolios that detail active tech and startup partnership opportunities (directed at Corporate Innovation and Investors)

GAP Relationship-building
Plenty of opportunities for peer-to-peer exchange through open discussion, online event platform, breaks, and The Happiest of HoursP


Gap Funds
Direct Follow-on Attracted

Did You Know...?

Over the past 15 years, research institutions have deployed nearly $700MM of their own gap fund capital to support promising technologies and startups. The efforts of these programs has resulting in nearly 1000 corporate licensed technologies and 1500 startup companies, attracting more than $8B in direct-follow-on private and corporate investment. What’s more is that 80% of these opportunities originated from institutions outside of Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley.


COVERGENCE starts long before we meet in Salt Lake City! Some opportunities for registered participants include:

  • Access to COVERGENCE event platform to begin connecting with participants, provide input on Summit agenda, and access shared resources
  • Research Institutions can apply to provide a GAP program/portfolio brief and submit to COVERGENCE GAP opportunity platform for review and feedback from corporate/investor participants
  • Corporate Innovation and Investors gain access to GAP program portfolio briefs and COVERGENCE GAP opportunity platform, where they can rank, rate, assess, and connect with exciting GAP opportunities and startups
  • Pre-event participant communication and resources
Register today to get started, or contact us directly at with any questions

Thursday, October 20

State of GAP

Landscape review of trends and outcomes from Mind the Gap 2022 Report, including 176 programs from 97 research institutions

GAP Best Practice Discussions

Thematic discussion sessions led by fund managers and leaders focused on best practice areas and common challenges, including: 

Discussion Topics

  • Reinvestment of Royalties and Equity Returns
  • Philanthropy and Generational Investors
  • Public Programs
  • Corporate and Investment Partnerships

Discussion Leaders (Focus)

  • John Shultz/Houston Methodist Translational Research Initiative (Securing Philanthropic GAP support)

  • James Thompson/Notre Dame IDEA Center (Budget Generating Programming)

Discussion Topics

  • Marketing and Reporting Methods
  • In-person Events and Showcases
  • Communicating Audience-appropriate Messaging
  • Getting the Attention and Support of Leadership and Stakeholders

Discussion Leaders (Topics)

  • Grace Chou/ University of Nevada-Reno (Communicating during GAP formation)

  • John Wilson/Innovate Calgary UCEED (GAP storytelling for internal/external stakeholders)

Discussion Topics

  • Intake Process
  • Tech/Startup Development and Portfolio Management Solutions
  • Diligence  and Evaluation Methods
  • Incorporating Outside Expertise
  • Managing Conflict of Interest
  • Decision-making and Providing Feedback

Discussion Leaders (Focus)

  • Peter Allen/Pitt Innovation Institute (Diligence Process)
  • Bob Creeden/UVA Seed Fund (Venture Startup Diligence Process)
  • Katie Hemphill, Northeastern Technology Ventures (Incorporating expert advisors and feedback into evaluation process)

Discussion Topics

  • Managing Advisory Boards
  • Building a Mentor Network
  • Implementing Innovation Fellows Programs
  • Working with CROs and Outside Services
  • Leveraging Venture Studios and Private Accelerator Programs

Discussion Leaders (Topic)

  • Greg Keenan/U Wisconsin-Madison WARF Accelerator Program (Mentor Program)

  • Cristoph Pittius, City of Hope (Translational Research Program)
  • Cecily Vaughn/ U Utah PIVOT (Greenhouse Model)

Discussion Topics

  • Catalyzing the Commercialization Process
  • Building the Innovation Ecosystem
  • Creating Start-ups and Jobs
  • Leveraging Follow-on Funding
  • Realizing Return on Investment (ROI)

Discussion Leaders (Focus)

  • Paul Corson/University of Utah PIVOT (Describing Impact)

  • Doug Hockstad/Tech Launch AZ Asset Development (Reporting to Multiple “Masters”)

  • Mireya McKee/UNC Kickstart Venture Services  (Startup Impact)

The Happiest of Hours

Food, Drinks, and Conversation with a Mountain View. Yes, please!

Friday, October 21

Investment and Commercialization Partner Discussions

Partners will share their historical approaches, areas of interest
Corporate and Investor 
  • Jack Boren, EPIC Ventures
  • Serene Papenfuss, Kickstart
  • Jon Schalliol, HG Ventures
Private Accelerator and Innovation Studios
  • Taylor Bench, Summit Venture Studio
  • Maaike Everts, Translational Therapeutics Accelerator (TRxA)

Innovation Ecosystem Panels

  • Katelin Roberts, Biohive
  • Troy D’Ambrosio, Lassonde Entrepreneur Center
  • Ashley Cornelison, Georgia Research Alliance
  • Rep. Jefferson Moss, Utah House of Representatives



A day dedicated to relationship-building between industry, investors, government agencies and research institution GAP Programs.
Breakout rooms, a scheduling platform, prepared GAP program briefs, bottomless coffee, no agenda, and a reception. What more could you ask for? Our scheduling platform and GAP program briefs will be made available to all participants two months before event to allow ample time for read-in and scheduling.
Optional innovosource BRIDGE partnering: Corporations and investors can leverage our BRIDGE Partnering System and process to present needs and challenges for submission by active and graduated research institution GAP funded technologies and startups. Participating corporations and investors can expect to identify and meet with high-potential de-risked opportunities that align with their innovation and investment interests prior to COVERGENCE and use the Partnering Day to strengthen relationships and do deeper portfolio dives. Inquire here to review this option


Walter Isaacson


Characteristics of successful innovators and innovative organizations

Walter Isaacson is an American author, journalist, and professor. He has been the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair and CEO of CNN, and the editor of Time.

Mr. Isaacson will share characteristics of successful innovators and innovative organizations from his breadth of experience through research and writing about Steve Jobs, Jennifer Doudna, and other prolific innovators.


Scaling from Startup

Dr. Trivia Frazier is an Entrepreneur, Researcher, and Business Professional with over 10 years of experience in the fields of stem cell research, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine.

Dr. Frazier is currently the CEO and president of Obatala Sciences, a biotech firm whose “fat-on-a-chip” technology facilitates faster testing for new drugs than traditional methods

Dr. Frazier will share her experiences and challenges in scaling from a startup company in New Orleans


Trivia Fraizer

Thursday, October 19

10:00 - 10:30 AM CT

Welcome/The Gap Fund/Accelerator Landscape Review from new Mind the Gap Report data

10:30 - 2:00 PM

Need-to-Know Gap Fund/Accelerator Program Discussion Panels

Leaders of proof of concept, startup, and venture university gap funds/accelerator programs will take the stage to moderate an all-participant open discussion on models, approaches, and common challenges.

Prior to the event participants can provide a formatted model review of their processes, structures, impact, and lessons-learned. These will be shared through the conference website

Full agenda coming

Friday, October 20

Corporate Innovation

Corporate Innovation and Venture teams are beginning to look past traditional partnership models (research projects, marketed licenses, etc.) to more alignment with existing programs in the university commercialization process, like gap fund and accelerator programs. The presenters/panelists will share their historical approaches, areas of interest, and opportunities for syncing with university technologies and startups.   

Venture Capital + Angel

Venture and angel models have evolved in recent years in ways that have opened up avenues for earlier stage investment and collaboration. Learn about emerging valuation tactics, fundraising strategies, and how these sources of investment, experience, and relationships can tie into your gap fund/accelerator process and goals.

Federal Accelerators

Federal agencies have stepped up their support of research institution technologies and startups through dedicated accelerator programs. Hear from federal program leaders on how to leverage and partner with these programs to advance GAP priorities.

Full agenda coming


Rice-Eccles Stadium Scholarship Club

451 1400 E
Salt Lake City, UT


555 S Main St
Salt Lake City, UT

The Grand America Hotel

Negotiated rate of $175/night through weekend for the Garden Premium Rooms.

Booking link:

Other rooms available at alternative pricing.


Hotel website:

We recommend selecting a hotel near the TRAX light rail route. It is a few stops away from the stadium and, besides ride share, the best transportation option

Additional Hotel Options near TRAX:

Kimpton Hotel Monaco
The Peery Tapestry Collection by Hilton
SLC Marriott City Center


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