The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee-Research Foundation is raising a $400,000 pool to help commercialize innovations developed at the university.
The fund will be used to invest in startup companies involving UWM faculty, students or staff who have licensed intellectual property through the foundation.
The foundation has received a $200,000 matching grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to develop the Bridge Grant Program, which is designed to compensate for a shortage of capital for university-based innovations, UWMRF said.
“Startups coming out of universities have extraordinary potential but are faced with challenges in converting the underlying research into business opportunities,” said Aaron Hagar, vice president of the WEDC’s Division of Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “This new fund helps close that gap and gets these promising technologies to the point where private sector investment can take over.”
The program could help fund translational research, proof of concept, and startup formation and growth.
“This is a great opportunity to accelerate strong ideas at UWM by using early stage investment. The Bridge Grant will be instrumental in helping our teams accomplish key milestones and attract further funding from agencies and investors,” said Jessica Silvaggi, UWMRF director of technology commercialization.
To date, 15 campus startup campuses have launched with UWMRF support. Currently the foundation offers another seed-funding source, called the Catalyst Grants Program, which began in 2007.
UWM entrepreneurs will be able to apply for Bridge Grant funds in two stages. Successful teams receiving a phase 1 grant are eligible to apply for a phase 2 award. Teams will also be supported by the UWMRF’s ENGAGE mentor program and by courses at the UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.