Educational Institution-Venture Capital Over the summer, the University of California (UC) System, with President Janet Napolitano at the helm, shifted a fundamental policy common with many university systems. She rescinded the “Guidelines on University-Industry Relations Policy,” in place since 1989, which prohibited the university from investing directly in companies emerging from UC research. Shortly thereafter, during the week of Sept. 15, 2014, the UC Office of the president proposed, and the UC Board of Regents approved, to create a $250 million venture capital fund, which will be funded by both the UC Pension fund and general endowment fund (not state funds or tuition). While certainly positioned to operate as a traditional fund developed to benefit from its investments, UC Ventures is also dedicated to capturing “…the economic value the University of California is creating through its pioneering research.”

UC Ventures will be able to invest directly in UC-based startups, and is positioned to take advantage of a huge research enterprise, which boasts income last year of over $100 million from royalty and license activities[1]. Further, there are significant players – venture groups, incubators, and industry presence – already at the table to further enhance the necessary infrastructure around the various UC campuses.
Continue Reading UC Ventures: How one very large public university system is setting an example. Or is it?

InnovationIt was great to see the New York entrepreneurial community and the next generation of entrepreneurs gather at this year’s Columbia Business School (CBS) Fall Venture Fair, which was held on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Approximately 40 student business teams were showcased to more than 100 guest attendees from the New York entrepreneurial community, including, seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers, accountants and financial advisors. After a few brief opening remarks by the CBS faculty members who helped organize the event, guests were invited to meet with student teams at their dedicated booths setup throughout the room. As student teams showcased their business ideas, guest attendees were encouraged to provide feedback on the students’ investor pitch and to provide informal guidance with respect to the development of the students’ business plans.

The scope of business ventures represented at the event varied considerably. The companies ranged from early stage ventures still working on a beta test of their product to fully operating small businesses with product presently available on the market. The breadth of product offerings were also extremely varied and included everything from mobile apps and other technology platforms to skin care products and ready-made cold brewed iced coffee for home and office use.
Continue Reading A First Look at New York City’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs