The fellowship, funded in part by the Kauffman Foundation grant, is lending specific focus to the issues of talent for start-up companies.
“This is our first effort in closing the talent gap in entrepreneurial development,” said Judith Cone, special assistant to the chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Cone was a vice president at the Kauffman Foundation directly before coming to the University in 2009.
“Companies, to get started, need lots of things,” she said. “Most people focus on money, and indeed they need money to get started, but they also need talented people.”
The University officials who pitched the idea for the grant also cited attractive features of the plan, including the Carolina Express License Agreement.
The license agreement, implemented earlier this year, is a device intended to speed up the licensing process for start-up companies, minimizing the time and cost of obtaining a license.
In attracting people to create companies around intellectual property from the University, the fellowship program is awarding two fellowships — one in business, and one in the sciences.
John Strenkowski, a UNC alumnus, will be the fellow for the business side and will take an existing idea and develop it into a company with a product for the market.
“He will be the lead business person, the CEO, to help do the heavy lifting of the business plan,” Rose said.
Strenkowski said he will work with a few companies in their initial stages before settling on one.
A second fellow, from the sciences, will provide scientific leadership for a second start-up, Rose said.
Rose said the fellowship will be focusing on biomedical developments and innovation in the life sciences.
This fellowship is only one piece in the University’s innovation puzzle. From courses in entrepreneurship to initiatives in the Campus Y, the University is trying to encourage innovation in all fields, Cone said.
“I think if you look at the ownership of intellectual property, the official property that the University goes into licenses on, that is on the scientific side,” Cone said.
“It’s important work, but when you look at the volume of activity on the campus, it’s mostly not that.”
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