Northwestern just announced two funds that will infuse some serious cash into commercializing university technology, and supporting student startups.
On Thursday, the university announced the $10 million N.XT Fund, which will invest in early-stage innovations based on Northwestern technologies, and the $4 million NUSeeds Fund, which will support student startups out of the university. The aim is to build off the foundations laid by the school’s growing entrepreneurship ecosystem, including The Garage (the on-campus coworking space), and entrepreneurship resources developed by the McCormick School of Engineering, Pritzker School of Law, and Kellogg School of Management.
“N.XT and NUseeds are part of Northwestern’s broader commitment to propel innovations to the public,” said Alicia Löffler, executive director of Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO), in a release. “These new funds will provide critical resources for promising technologies created by our faculty and students.”
N.XT will focus on streamlining the path to commercialization. The fund will invest between $50,000 and $200,000 in “faculty and student entrepreneurs using Northwestern-owned technologies so they can propel innovations to the next stage of commercial development,” Northwestern said. Once these entrepreneurs get funding, they’ll spend the next year meeting milestones such as product validation, prototyping and market identification. The N.XT fund will be managed by INVO.
Investments will be made twice per year, and applications for the first funding cycle are due April 21. Finalist presentations will be made June 2. Kellogg students trained by venture capitalists will help in the investment process.
NUseeds Fund will invest in early stage ventures by Northwestern students that aren’t necessarily based on Northwestern technology. Awards will range between $10,000 and $100,000, and students will also get coaching from experts affiliated with The Garage. Students are only eligible if they complete the Garage Residency program, and have received funding from an institutional investment partner and/or a traditional accelerator program, according to Northwestern. NUseeds is funded by philanthropic gifts.
“Northwestern has developed a robust network of resources to help the entrepreneurially minded, from an undergraduate student developing her first venture to a leading faculty member looking to launch a new product that will improve people’s lives,” added J.B. Pritzker, Northwestern alumnus and trustee. “This support for innovation at all levels will lead to the creation of stronger companies coming out of Northwestern, participating in Chicago-based business incubators MATTER and 1871, and contributing to Chicago’s economic development.”