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UA to Expand Entrepreneurship Mentoring via NSF I-Corps

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s ability to foster entrepreneurship and, ultimately, create jobs is strengthened through its recent selection by the National Science Foundation as an Innovation Corps site.

With its selection, UA’s Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs Center becomes the only NSF I-Corps site in the state and is one of only three in the Southeast.

“This support will accelerate the commercialization of marketable ideas by The University of Alabama,” said Dr. Carl A. Pinkert, UA vice president for research and economic development. “As a result, scientific discoveries that can benefit society can reach the marketplace more quickly.”

The selection, which includes $300,000 in grant funding over three-years, enables AIME to further nurture science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty and students, providing infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding to assist them in transitioning their work into the marketplace, said Dr. Dan Daly, director of UA’s AIME Center.

Working closely with NSF’s regional I-Corps Node at Georgia Tech, the move will enable AIME to expand and improve its current innovation and training programs, said Daly.

More than a dozen start-up companies receive early assistance and mentoring through both the AIME Center and the Office for Technology Transfer within UA’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

“By assisting entrepreneurial teams with equipment or materials to develop prototypes or, perhaps, providing travel expenses that enables them to meet with potential clients, we can help these teams meet their commercialization goals,” Daly said.

The I-Corps site at AIME will leverage UA’s STEM Path to the MBA program. That program provides students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math the opportunity to earn their undergraduate degree in four years and an MBA with one additional year of study.

The AIME Center focuses on bringing concepts from University of Alabama researchers and creating testable prototypes to demonstrate the value the ideas bring to the marketplace. It also helps start-up companies create business plans and apply for select funding opportunities, and it provides laboratory and office space, through UA’s Bama Technology Incubator, where companies can begin operations prior to full start-up phase.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state’s economy, is in keeping with UA’s vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state’s flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

February 2, 2015

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