Since the beginning, universities have launched key talent programs – i.e., fellowship, mentorship, and evaluator support programs – that are incorporated into their GAP grant and investment programs. Just recently, they’ve started to combine and formalize them into sophisticated support mechanisms that are closely tied to gap funding capital.
Tap into Talent
Technology development and startup accelerator talent support programs assist gap fund programs in the development, evaluation, commercialization, and deployment of associated technologies and startups. These programs, people- and tool-driven, are critical and directly impact both institutional and community innovation capability by engaging serial entrepreneurs, mentors, advisors, and systems to support significant development and evaluatory milestones.
And, when a creative and respected accelerator support program is launched (like a mentorship or educational program), it’s important to integrate it closely with the process so that it cannot be effective without the fund.
“Investment aside, these talent support programs are an invaluable source of advisory, mentorship, and networking support for university tech and startups,” Jacob Johnson, innovosource founder, says. “GAP programs must make these efforts as imperative as the money because they not only speed and strengthen existing assets to market, but improve future prospects too.”
Here are five universities that have developed programs that closely intertwine technology startups with GAP talent programs. Each has a little different angle:
- Carnegie Mellon University: They operate The Innovation Commercialization Fellows (ICF) Program. Its goal is to accelerate the process of commercializing university research and it aims to foster entrepreneurship among graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research assistants — the research personnel who work directly with faculty investigators to conduct scientific experiments, solve problems, and innovate. The ICF program offers a $50K/$50K match innovation fellowship to advance CMU technology by paring postdocs with alumni mentors.
- Washington CoMotion: They leverage their researchers and academic innovators’ success in an entrepreneurship program called RAISE to introduce their innovators to skill development through a mentoring network.
- Indiana University Ventures Founders & Funders Network: This is an exclusive IU community that brings like-minded people together. Innovators and entrepreneurs find the industry experts and resources they need to push their businesses forward; Entrepreneurs, innovators and investors get access to the best of IU’s startup community. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
- University of Wisconsin-Madison/WARF: The WARF Acceleratorcreates teams of prestigious business mentors (Catalysts) who represent Fortune 500 companies and are research and development leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Catalysts act as hands-on, advisory teams for inventors.
- SkyDeck Berkeley: This was formed as a partnership between UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. SkyDeck offers a powerful environment for startups to grow and launch. The robust and vibrant ecosystem includes a deep network of advisors, industry partners, and accredited investors. It’s developed a strong global reputation and leverages a network of 500,000 Berkeley Alumni to help startups succeed.
So, all this serves to illustrate that talent should fall into the strategic development of and should be built into the overall budget during the project/startup development stages. To learn more about how to leverage talent programs to support GAP projects and startups, download the summary or purchase the full Mind the Gap Report 2022.