UAMS Developing Unique Entrepreneur-In-Residence Program (Guest Post)

June 9th, 2015 by Nancy Gray

Dr. Nancy Gray, director of UAMS BioVentures, contributed this post to L2L.

L2L Guest Post by Dr. Nancy Gray of UAMS BioVenturesUniversities are increasingly relying on their technology transfer offices to translate new innovations into viable startup businesses and drive economic development.

For a new startup company to succeed, there needs to be a strong technology founder or founders – along with a network of individuals with experience in operating a business, financing startups, and addressing legal matters available to the entrepreneur – to put together a viable business plan and raise seed capital.

Around the country, universities are utilizing entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) programs to attract professionals with extensive industry or entrepreneurial expertise to act as mentors for university researchers interested in forming companies. 

Fortunately, within the state of Arkansas, we have a strong entrepreneurial support system that provides mentors, training for developing SBIR/STTR proposals, angel funds, and training for developing business plans and financing pitches. To a certain extent, this network of support fills the needs being addressed by EIR programs at other universities. These external resources, such as ASBTDC, are definitely a benefit to both the entrepreneur and the technology transfer professional who is charged with finding viable commercial outlets for university-based technologies.

While the external economic development community focuses on assisting the entrepreneur in developing a business model, identifying financing strategies, and refining “the pitch,” the university-based entrepreneur faces additional challenges. Issues such as conflict of interest, conflict of commitment, and treading the fine line of academic research vs. company research are perceived to be additional hurdles. 

Such internal hurdles prevent some would-be entrepreneurs from taking the first step toward being true entrepreneurs. Some perceive the internal challenges to be a significant barrier.

To address this issue, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is embarking on a new model for an entrepreneur-in-residence program. Unlike other university programs, UAMS will leverage its own faculty and staff members who have launched spin-off companies and who have successfully navigated the internal challenges of becoming an entrepreneur. The program is in its infancy, with only a handful of EIRs identified, but over the next six months, UAMS expects to have the program defined, implemented, and announced.

Details about the program will be made available on the UAMS BioVentures website. We are excited about adding this new dimension to the continuum of support available to the academic entrepreneur and are looking forward to sharing the model with other Arkansas universities.

Related: More about Dr. Nancy Gray

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