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The Idea Incubator Goes to Campus


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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of a handful of universities that work closely with investors to make sure promising ideas are nurtured into successful startups. Universities involve themselves at an early stage in the process, harvesting the best ideas and then matching them with businesses and investors interested in developing them further.

This process takes place in a "proof-of-concept center," the first of which was the University of California, San Diego's William J. von Liebig Center. It can cost investors $250,000 to fund a new idea and develop it further, and academics call the chasm that usually separates a good idea from people who will invest in it the "valley of death."

The Obama administration wants to support university commercialization efforts by allocating $12 million among several institutions next year in what could become a continuing effort to support and study proof-of-concept centers. Congress has yet to act on the proposal, but a House subcommittee held hearings this month to discuss improving "innovation ecosystems" around universities to encourage the commercialization of taxpayer-financed research.

From The New York Times
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