Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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February 28, 2024 | Tom Ballard

U News | U of Southern Mississippi leading “Gulf Blue Navigator” program

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago launches Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Fellows program.

From the University of Southern Mississippi:

The Hattiesburg-based institution, with the support of its partners that include the University of Southern Mississippi Research Foundation, NVision Solution’s Unmanned Coast, and Jackson State University, has selected cohort 1 of start-up companies for the unique “Gulf Blue Navigator” program.

The group of six blue technology-focused companies follows a pilot cohort of six companies that jump-started the program from November 2022-April 2023. The newest cohort will operate in a unique region of the United States, characterized by a complex body of water. The Gulf of Mexico presents distinct challenges and conditions, which allows startups to explore new applications and refine the capabilities of their platforms.

Additionally, the start-ups can enrich their experience by interacting with individuals who already confront these challenges daily.

This comprehensive program provides access to local assets to shorten the development timeline for start-ups focused on blue technologies. They will gain market access while engaging with university, industry, state, and federal partners, and potential customers. The “Gulf Blue Navigator” program provides access to state-of-the art research facilities, wet-labs, co-working space, mentors and networking, and year-round access to warm coastal waters.

The new cohort is focused on uncrewed systems. The selection committee started with a pool of over 260 potential applicants, narrowed the total applicant pool to 16 applicants across three countries to select the final six. Each will receive support for their costs for the program, including travel to the Gulf Coast over the four-month program.

Click here to learn more about the newest cohort.

From Clemson University:

A unique “connection event” started at the end of January and continues through early April. Called the “Entrepreneurship College of the Week,” the three-hour sessions unite employers in start-up companies and students from specific majors to meet for job fairs, speaker panels, and networking nights.

The series is hosted by the Brook T. Smith Launchpad, the Entrepreneurship Hub of Clemson University, and each of the colleges. Click here to learn more.

From Western Carolina University:

An Assistant Professor in the College of Business has been chosen by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship as a Rural Entrepreneurship Research Fellow for 2023-2024.

Lane Perry was one of three fellows selected in 2023, and he is currently working with the other fellows on a vein of research focused on “institutional voids” in rural areas with respect to entrepreneurial development. A key focus of his research is understanding micro-ecosystems, like the effects of revitalizating a specific main street or city block.

“The craft brewing industry in Western North Carolina is a good example of these micro-systems,” Perry said. “An anchor business in the form of a brewery is opened in a specific area of a rural community and then a flurry of development begins to evolve.”

Along with three other WCU colleagues, Mariano Garrido-Lopez, Yue Hillon, and Josh Downs, Perry is looking into the idea of management consulting and value creation for microenterprises, or businesses with less than nine employees. He wants to help these small businesses leverage relationships, like with local universities.

From the University of Charleston:

The West Virginia institution has opened a new Downtown Innovation Hub (DIH) to help grow small businesses. To be eligible for DIH’s signature accelerator program, applicants must have hit these milestones:

  • Have been in operation for more than one year;
  • Have at least one employee other than the founder(s); and
  • Reached a minimum of $250,000 in revenue during the prior year.

The nine-month program, which includes core training modules spaced three to four weeks apart, was funded in 2022 by a $1,590,154 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. It joins the private university’s Russell and Martha Wehrle Innovation Center which offers 6500-square-feet of technology-infused space with room for students to study, learn, explore, and discover.

From the University of Cincinnati:

The University is spearheading a new initiative by launching its Lab2Market program, empowering the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) researchers into the realm of entrepreneurship.

According to this recent article, the effort involves a two-pronged approach. The first part is to introduce graduate STEM students to the intricacies of entrepreneurship and the technology commercialization process. The second step is to equip students with the skills to envision market applications for their research, enhancing their prospects in the industry job market.

The Lab2Market journey kicks off with an annual symposium, a cornerstone event designed to immerse graduate-level STEM students in the intricacies of entrepreneurship and the technology commercialization process. During the immersive workshop, students will have the unique opportunity to learn from faculty members who are also founders, gaining insights into entrepreneurial resources, and receive valuable feedback on their research from local entrepreneurs and investors.

The second phase is customer discovery research, a crucial step in understanding the market applications of their work. Operating on a weekly schedule over a 14-week semester, participants engage in a cohort environment learning the ropes of market research. Modeled after the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program, students emerge with a profound understanding of the lean start-up methodology and a robust network of industry connections — assets poised to shape their future research endeavors and career trajectories.

From the University of Chicago:

In response to the growing interest in Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA), the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Booth School of Business is launching the ETA Fellows Program.

Made possible by a generous donation from Booth alum A. Michael Muscolino, Co-Founder and Partner at Sixth Street, the new program kicks off in Fall 2024 and is designed to provide tailored educational opportunities and resources to students who plan to enter the ETA space immediately or within a few years of earning their MBA.

ETA Fellows will be selected annually through a competitive application and screening process which will require students to share information about their ETA career goals, including their timeline, industry and geographic focus, and anticipated milestones. Fellows will be selected by a committee comprised of Polsky Center staff, Chicago Booth ETA faculty, and advisors.

The program will launch with six to eight ETA Fellows and will grow over time to serve up to 10 students each year.


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