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Early Progress Indicators: An Innovation Incubator

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship and NSF's PFI

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.489.1 - 9.489.8



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Paper Authors

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Ken Vickers

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John Ahlen

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Ron Foster

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Greg Salamo

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Document: 2004-2124 Division: Entrepreneurship Early Progress Indicators: an Innovation Incubator

Ron Foster, Ken Vickers, Greg Salamo, and John Ahlen University of Arkansas/Arkansas Science and Technology Authority

Abstract: The goals of a novel Innovation Incubator (I2) are to simultaneously enhance on-campus education and research as technology commercialization activities are deployed. The Incubator is beginning a third year of operations, and it is appropriate to look for early indicators of progress related to the effort. It is generally accepted that real evaluation of early and seed-stage investments cannot be completed for several years. However, qualitative assessments can be made on the impact of the Incubator. One specific requirement of an I2 client is a commitment to enter a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) proposal during the course of the one-year of support. The baseline level of SBIR activity in Arkansas has been consistently poor in comparison to other states. The number of proposals made by Arkansas small businesses within the past two years have roughly tripled, resulting in a record number of Phase I successes. It is expected that these successes will be translated to increased level of Phase II successes. These accomplishments can be related to I2. A specific concern for Incubator personnel at the beginning of the program was the amount of deal flow. Within the past two years, seven spin-off companies have been formed, based around University IP – an increase from a base of virtually zero spin-off companies formed over the past 20 years. Increased activity is seen as a key early indication of progress relating to policy changes in the management of intellectual property by the University’s Sponsored Research office. The incubator makes the case that progress has been made in a manner that is entirely complementary to ongoing education and research. The Incubator is fundamentally designed to have high student involvement. Research in many areas has increased in relevance as entrepreneurial faculty and students increasingly relate their research to application needs. The I2 applicant screening process is fundamentally linked with education goals, since graduate students participate at every stage. In addition, the majority of financial assistance that the Incubator provides to a small company is in the form of employment of graduate and undergraduate students to work on development of prototypes to meet the company’s needs. In addition to other early indicators of success, two companies formed around graduate students that had completed a management course in Intra/Entrepreneurship of Technology have had recent success in obtaining SBIR and follow-on funding. This paper is a continuation of the paper delivered at ASEE 2002 conference entitled “Launching an Innovation Incubator in a University Setting” by Vickers, Salamo, Loewer and Ahlen. In the 2004 conference, we will discuss early progress indicators and recommendations for broadening implementation.

1 Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Vickers, K., & Ahlen, J., & Foster, R., & Salamo, G. (2004, June), Early Progress Indicators: An Innovation Incubator Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13445

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