The Twin Cities will host the first gathering focused on connecting university tech and startup funds with innovative companies and early-stage investors. COvergence, scheduled for July 11th, is aimed at jump starting conversation around active university proof of concept, startup, and venture gap funds and accelerators that will lead to greater collaboration to advance innovation from the lab to the marketplace.
“Crossing the Valley of Death is a major challenge in moving promising university technology form the lab to commercial and investment partners, especially in places not named Boston, Silicon Valley, or San Francisco, ” says summit organizer Jacob Johnson. His Minneapolis-based firm, Innovosource, has been tracking and advocating for the emergence and evolution of these programs for the past 15 years.
Universities are implementing gap funding and accelerator programs to bridge this shortage of capital, development support and available talent. Universities are the source of thousands of new technologies and startups a year. Smart corporations and investors are partnering with these programs to position themselves ahead of competitors. The days of paying a premium for picked-over opportunities has past.
The conference, supported by Barnes and Thornburg, will begin with a rapid showcase of university program structures and a breakout to discuss current funding challenges. It will include a speed-dating reception and dinner cruise to offer ample time for new connections. The event is targeting a mix of 40 universities, 30 companies, and 30 investors.
The soon to be released Mind the Gap Report , containing data from 75 universities and 119 programs, will show that 64 reporting funds universities invested $350M to advance 5,000 technologies and startups towards the marketplace. These investments have attracted more than $4B in follow-on funding from corporations and investors.
“To me this demonstrates the real strength of gap funding and accelerator programs as a means to both catalyze innovation and to attract collaboration at a relatively low cost,” Johnson says.
“The primary goal of this event is to bring together university-industry-investors to better understand these programs and to discuss opportunities for collaborations, especially through existing university gap funds and accelerator programs,” says Johnson. “We encourage participation from any company or investor that would like to explore these programs as part of their future innovation and investment strategies.