Campus Ventures Summer '12 Group
Campus Ventures is a university-based commercialization accelerator program designed to assist Maine companies and university faculty commercialize technology and manufacturing projects. The program was designed to help entrepreneurs and university faculty members advance technology-intensive projects and provide rich experiential learning opportunities for students. While doing both of these, the program satisfies the overarching goal of supporting innovation, economic development, and job creation in Maine. USM has partnered with the Maine Center for Enterprise Development (MCED) to create a dual track technology- and business-development incubator program to accelerate commercialization activity for both startups and faculty spin-off projects. The program also provides services to larger, more established companies in a fee-for-service arrangement. Campus Ventures is funded in part through a Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF) grant, a Maine Technology Institute (MTI) Cluster Development Award, and by industry partners.
In support of the program’s stated goals, the Campus Ventures commercialization program provides the business community with access to university resources, including faculty and staff, students, facilities, and equipment. The program is seeking referrals for projects involving technologies related to the academic programs within the College of Science, Technology & Health. Services provided by the program will help startups and larger companies advanced research and development services in the following sectors:
- Product Design & Development
- Consumer Products
- Industrial/Chemical Products
- Computer Software
- Web Application Development
- Rapid Prototyping
- Reverse Engineering
- Manufacturing Process Development & Equipment Fabrication
- Materials and Product Testing Services
Participation in the Campus Ventures program is intended to give Maine-based technology companies a jump start in bringing commercially viable technologies to market. For the purposes of this program, “commercialization” involves the activities related to bringing a project from a late-stage conceptual level to a market-ready or near market-ready level.
Companies must be able to clearly define a need for assistance with technology and manufacturing commercialization activities. For the purposes of this program, a business idea is ready for commercialization activity when its primary research & development has been completed and the product or idea is near or at the level of a functional prototype. Companies with fully-designed products being manufactured in short-run or small-batch processes requiring manufacturing scale-up are also eligible for participation in this program. Companies with existing products requiring enhancements or optimization are also eligible for participation. The program does not fund or support primary research.
Projects must require technology development that overlaps with the academic programs of the University. The review committee has full discretion in deciding if a project can be supported by university faculty, students, and facilities.
The program receives an allocation of MEIF funds to conduct USM’s commercialization activities. The purpose of these funds is to create a direct commercialization path for faculty research. In 2010 USM and UMaine were awarded an MTI Cluster Development grant to support the Precision Manufacturing Cluster. These funds are being currently used to build capacity to support Maine companies in the precision manufacturing sector. Included in this grant were three pieces of advanced prototyping, 3D scanning, and manufacturing equipment which was divided between the two campuses.
Capacity to build this program was funded in large part due to MTI’s investment in building staff, project management and technical capacity with our partners at UMaine’s AMC.
To date, the Campus Ventures program has completed or is currently engaged in 22 applied research and commercialization projects. Since inception in 2010, three new commercialized products or technologies have been brought to market through the program. 42 undergraduate students and three graduate students have completed paid internships with the program.
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