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Kauffman to help speed research to market

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A new effort from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation aims to help turn ideas hatched in university labs into marketable products.

A study published by the foundation and the Max Planck Institute of Economics says a new approach to funding university-based discoveries and innovations has proven effective in at least two cases.

Called “proof-of-concept centers,” these new entities provide seed funding to help university innovators develop and commercialize their discoveries with the goal of turning them into viable products or services in the open market.

In addition to funding, these centers provide advisory support and educational programming to help faculty and students determine how to test and market new products and develop business plans.

During its research, the foundation analyzed two such proof-of-concept centers, the Deshpande Center at MIT, and the von Liebig Center at the University of California at San Diego, both of which were created in 2002.

The centers are funded through philanthropic donations and together have awarded almost $10 million in seed grants and launched 26 startup companies, which combined have amassed over $159 million in private capital.

To further the work of these and other proof of concept centers, the Kauffman Foundation plans to launch a network to bring the centers together to share best practices, create benchmarks and plan for future research.

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