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U of M wins grant to boost student tech entrepreneurs

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The University of Minnesota has landed a grant that will help its science and engineering students take their discoveries out of the lab and the classroom and into the marketplace.

Minnesota Business reports that the university has been awarded a $300,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation I-Corps. The grant will identify the commercial potential of their research and discoveries and allow students and staff to test those ideas in the real world. The grant provides seed money of approximately $3,000 for up to 30 entrepreneurial teams, which are part of the U's Innovation Corps.

According to a statement from the University, the U. is one of 14 colleges to receive the award, joining MIT, Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as recipients. The statement added that MIN-Corps and the other sites are part of a larger national trend to boost education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and promote university-based entrepreneurship. The U has 23,000 students and 2,500 faculty members in STEM programs.

“The NSF award provides a unique opportunity for the university to be part of a nationwide innovation network of shared resources, knowledge and entrepreneurial expertise,” Mostafa Kaveh, the University’s College of Science and Engineering associate dean and lead on the I-Corps grant, said in a statement. “Ultimately, this program will not only benefit our student entrepreneurs, but it will help to advance Minnesota’s innovation economy and develop the next generation of innovation leaders in the state.”

A story in health news website HealthCanal explained that Innovation Corps grants support "activities and programs that prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory into the commercial world." The story explained that the goal of the program is to help researchers translate their discoveries into technologies with near-term benefits for the economy and society. It is a public-private partnership program that teaches grantees to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and offers entrepreneurship training to student participants.

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