MU to invest $5 million in entrepreneurial programs

The Enterprise Investment Program aims to help start-up companies develop and commercialize intellectual property at MU.

The UM system announced its plans to invest up to $5 million to help accelerate commercialization of the university’s intellectual property through the Enterprise Investment Program on Oct. 1.

According to the Enterprise Investment Program website, the program was created to help Missouri startups and early stage companies working to commercialize intellectual property developed at the university. The program’s purpose is to help in the commercialization effort of university-developed intellectual property, in order to create jobs and generate lasting economic benefits to Missouri.

Scott Uhlmann, Office of Intellectual Property administration director, said the Enterprise Investment Program was first announced by UM system President Gary Forsee earlier this year and the program began accepting applications Oct. 1.

On the Enterprise Investment Program’s website, Forsee said a program such as the Enterprise Investment Program will help to combine the best minds in the UM system with entrepreneurs at start-up companies across the state, creating cutting edge, quality jobs for Missourians.

Uhlmann said the program will invest up to $5 million from funds set aside by the president for Strategic Priorities. The maximum amount of investment in any one company is $500,000.

“By providing entrepreneurs and early stage companies with an infusion of financial resources, we can greatly enhance the potential of moving innovations into the marketplace in a timely manner and positively impact Missouri’s economy through enhanced tax revenue and new job creation,” Michael Nichols, vice president of Research and Economic Development said in a news release.

Nichols said universities today bring about 70 percent of research to the market, and private industry brings about 30 percent. This is a complete reversal from the mid 1970s when industries conducted the majority of research that led to new product commercialization.

Uhlmann said the Enterprise Investment Program is looking for applicants who have a relationship with the university, such as a license of university-owned intellectual property.

“Faculty members who want to create a company and license intellectual property from the university may also apply to the program,” Uhlmann said. “Even students, who after a recent change to the university’s policy now own their intellectual property, may apply to the program.”

According to the news release, the university will give preference to companies in high-tech industries with a strong potential for job growth, such as life sciences, nanoscience, information technology, engineering, energy, medicine and medical devices.

The criteria of evaluating the applications include whether the applicants would accomplish the goals set forth in the application, create Missouri jobs, move the university developed intellectual property closer to market and provide the university with a return on the university's financial investment, according to the program’s website.

Applications are being accepted from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Applicants can expect an initial decision to be made within three months.

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