Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Hampshire’s New Start-Up Accelerator

A team of technology entrepreneurs led by Mark Galvin has partnered with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) to launch a new startup business accelerator - the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center (NH-ICC). The goal of this nonprofit center, located at the Pease Tradeport, is to create new jobs in the region by selecting high potential early stage companies and providing them with a combination of business resources, seed capital and “hands on involvement” by seasoned startup executives.

UNH, which has developed a strong entrepreneurial culture through spin-off companies, by housing the internationally respected Center for Venture Research, and through its campus-wide Holloway Business Plan competition, provided startup capital for the NH-ICC as well as expertise in creating the unique public-private relationship. The NH-ICC will work to facilitate the use of university research by its resident companies through licensing and royalty agreements. UNH will also provide resident companies with student research assistants and mentors from its colleges, including the Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

“This is a great opportunity for the university to support technology entrepreneurship both on our campus and in our community, while at the same time leveraging our resources to help support the creation of private sector jobs in the state,” said UNH President Mark W. Huddleston. “Turning the university’s intellectual capital into commercial opportunities as a way not only to expand revenue streams but to enhance economic development and job creation in the state is a key component of the university’s 10-year strategic plan and I’m pleased we are well on the way to seeing results.”

“The economic downturn of the past two years has taken a significant toll on the New Hampshire startup community, where a host of innovative new technologies – not to mention local jobs - are languishing on the sidelines because of the lack of a viable path to commercialization,” said Mark Galvin, the founder of Whaleback Systems in Portsmouth, Cedar Point Communications in Derry and managing director of the NH-ICC. “The NH-ICC will provide a path for promising early stage companies to bring their products to market while also creating sustainable, high-value private sector jobs in the state.”

Added Galvin, “UNH has played a critical role in getting this initiative off the ground, providing both resources and funding. We look forward to helping the university accelerate the commercialization of its research, inventions and technology while also using the NH-ICC to attract entrepreneurs from throughout New England to build their startup business in New Hampshire.”

The NH-ICC will select up to 12 seed stage technology companies on a rolling 12-month basis and “graduate” resident companies after 18 months with the expectation that they will remain in New Hampshire, grow rapidly and create new jobs. The NH-ICC’s operations will be funded through a seed investment from UNH, private investment fund management fees and carried interest, and matching business development grants. Selected resident companies will receive $100,000 to $250,000 in seed funding from the private investment fund.

UNH has had a strong entrepreneurial focus since at least 1984, when the Center for Venture Research was created within the Whittemore School of Business and Economics. Currently led by Director Jeffrey Sohl, the Center studies early stage equity financing for high growth ventures.

The Whittemore School Holloway Prize Innovation-to-Market Competition, established in 1988, is designed to stimulate entrepreneurship throughout the University System of New Hampshire. A short video of this year’s final round is available on WMUR's Chronicle.

In 2001, the first company was spun off from UNH. Chaoticom, a joint project of the Math Department and the Whittemore School, received seed funding from the eCoast Angels Investment Network.

Now,  in 2010, we have NH-ICC. AT IBM in the 1960s, we knew it was summer when the Branch Manager switched to his straw hat.  This summer, I tip my straw hat to Mark Galvin for getting this accelerator launched.

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