TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s role in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation is strengthened through a new $3.45 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to the regional hub to which UA and three other universities belong.
The funds, part of the NSF’s Innovation Corps program, known as I-Corps, provide education and research infrastructure to help scientific discoveries reach the marketplace more quickly.
“This investment further enhances UA’s efforts to capitalize on our growing entrepreneurial spirit,” said Dr. Carl A. Pinkert, UA vice president for research and economic development. “We seek to inspire our campus innovators by equipping them with the necessary support to ensure their ideas reach the end users as quickly as feasible.”
Recently AIME was asked to partner in a hub known as the I-Corps South, headquartered at Georgia Tech and also composed of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Tennessee.
I-Corps South is one of eight NSF I-Corps Nodes in the nation and will introduce the labs, college and universities through the Southeast to entrepreneurial education, ultimately increasing commercialization outcomes in each of the participating states.
AIME will contribute recruiting and training STEM faculty and students and also training instructors around the Southeast to deliver entrepreneurial education.
UA’s latest share of the funding, $566,000 over five-years, enables the University to further provide regional infrastructure, advice and resources to aid faculty and students in transitioning their work into the marketplace, said Dr. Dan Daly, director of UA’s AIME Center.
More than 30 STEM innovation teams per year receive early assistance and mentoring through the AIME Center and the Office for Technology Transfer, both within UA’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.
The I-Corps site at AIME also leverages UA’s STEM Path to the MBA program to deliver entrepreneurial education to UA STEM faculty and students. That program provides students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math the opportunity to earn their undergraduate degree in four years and an MBA with an additional year of study.
The AIME Center focuses on commercially developing concepts from University of Alabama researchers and creating testable prototypes to demonstrate the value the ideas bring to the marketplace. It also helps start-up companies create business plans and apply for select funding opportunities, and it provides laboratory and office space through UA’s Bama Technology Incubator, where companies can begin operations prior to full start-up phase.