CMU, incubator land $1M

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A partnership between Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business and local startup incubator Innovation Works has won a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The prize will be used over the next two years to increase the organizations' efforts to commercialize university research and nurture local startups.

The private-public partnership is part of the first class of recipients of the i6 Challenge grant from the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration.

The two organizations have worked for years to incubate young companies and keep technology firms in the region. But the prize represents a more close-knit relationship between the private university and Innovation Works, a nonprofit venture-capital firm primarily funded through state money.

Some of the i6 prize will go toward hosting workshops and activities for students and faculty interested in moving to the commercial space, said Art Boni, the director of the entrepreneurship program at the Tepper School.

The i6 Challenge named six winners in September who had the best plans on developing technology commercialization. The CMU and Innovation Works partnership won in the Philadelphia region category.

The competitive nature of the process mirrors the Race to the Top program that has states vying for educational funding and is part of the Commerce Department's new "export-oriented, innovation-driven" priorities, said Brian McGowan, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of commerce for economic development.


Erich Schwartzel: eschwartzel@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1455.


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