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UAF Launches Business Incubator


UAF's scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs now have a venue in which their ideas can become viable business concepts.

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The University of Alaska Fairbanks has launched a new business incubator aimed at helping university scientists and inventors move their ideas from the laboratory into the private sector.

The UAF Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship will augment existing public and private sector services to convert university inventions and intellectual property from concepts into fledgling businesses.

“There are lots of ways a university can benefit the state,” said Gwen Holdmann, director of the UAF Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization, which will oversee the new center. “One of those ways is to push that intellectual property into the private sector.”

UAF has worked for many years to commercialize research discoveries. In 2012, it created the commercialization office, which works with researchers and other university entrepreneurs on early steps such as registering patents and making invention disclosures. Holdmann said ideas have stalled too often because they needed additional resources or specialized expertise. The new incubator will provide that targeted assistance, maturing new ideas generated by UAF research and licensing the products directly to the private sector or through new spinoff companies.

The new center will work with university experts and external entities to provide a range of services to university entrepreneurs, Holdmann said. Those services may include things like workshops and lectures designed to encourage commercialization, or access to mentors to help individual entrepreneurs. For example, Holdmann said, a researcher with an idea for a medical device might need assistance from an electrical engineer to create a prototype. The new center would link the researcher and the engineer. The center will even have “maker space” available for building prototypes.

“This is about giving researchers whatever tools they need to move their ideas along,” Holdmann said. “How can we create more of a culture of entrepreneurship? I truly believe there is so much our university can do to support the private sector.”

The new center will be housed on the fourth floor of the new Engineering Learning and Innovation Facility.

ADDITIONAL CONTACT: Gwen Holdmann, 907-590-4577gwen.holdmann@alaska.edu

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