The Rowan University Foundation, the philanthropic and fundraising arm of Rowan University, committed to allocate $5 million to a new venture capital fund to fuel new research initiatives by faculty, students and alumni.
“With an endowment of nearly $175 million, the Foundation is in a position to make a meaningful investment in the University’s researchers and entrepreneurs in a way few universities can,” said Paul Tully, Foundation chair. “While Rowan’s students and faculty will undoubtedly be successful in attracting outside funding, some may first need seed money to get their ideas started. Through the Rowan Venture Fund, the Foundation will provide an opportunity to support research ideas at their earliest stages.”
The Rowan Venture Fund is the first undertaking of this magnitude at Rowan, which just last year the State of New Jersey designated as the second comprehensive public research institution in the State. That designation furthers Rowan’s drive to increase its commercialization and technology development efforts, particularly in growth sectors such as engineering, medical education, health sciences and business. Last year, Rowan received $24 million in sponsored research and grants, and it plans to increase that to $100 million in 10 years. Since July 1, federal funding alone jumped 35 percent and State research funding increased 55 percent at the University.
The Venture Fund — rare among regional public institutions — will catapult Rowan’s research enterprise and provide resources to attract entrepreneurial research faculty; encourage innovative ideas from the Rowan community, including alumni; and provide an opportunity to invest in Rowan-generated technologies, intellectual property, inventions and businesses. The Rowan Venture Fund will accelerate the growth of research at Rowan while providing incentives for Rowan-generated initiatives.
The Foundation, which spent a year examining successful venture fund models, formed a Technology/New Venture Development Committee to work with R.J. Tallarida, the executive director of the Foundation, to develop and oversee the Rowan Venture Fund program. The Foundation soon will appoint an advisory committee comprising business leaders, financiers, entrepreneurs and other individuals with biotechnology, biomedical, engineering and venture capital expertise. The advisory committee will provide real-world expertise to assist the Technology/New Venture Development Committee in awarding up to $1 million a year for five years to support new technology businesses and inventions through a competitive review process.
“The Rowan Venture Fund will open doors for our faculty, students and alumni to bring their studies and research to life,” said Dr. Ali Houshmand, president of Rowan University. “Today we have people working on cures for diseases and on technology that will improve the quality of life. Tomorrow, with this funding, we will see some of this work reach the marketplace and make a difference in all of our lives. This Rowan Venture Fund is a major step toward our University meeting its mission to conduct research that addresses real-world problems.”
Tallarida expects the Rowan Venture Fund will attract external donors who recognize the value of and will help grow the $5 million investment.
“We are very fortunate that the Foundation Board is made up of a group of forward-thinking leaders from a wide variety of disciplines,” said Tallarida. “Their commitment to establish the Rowan Venture Fund will encourage others to invest in the University and our very talented faculty and students who work on new technologies and innovations.”