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Launching An Innovation Incubator In A University Setting

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Product and Venture Creation Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.797.1 - 7.797.18



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Paper Authors

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Ken Vickers

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Otto Loewer

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John Ahlen

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Ron Foster

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Greg Salamo

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Session 1654 (2002-2251)

Launching an Innovation Incubator in a University Setting

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


A novel Innovation Incubator has been launched with the goal of enhancing both education and commercialization of technology. The Incubator supports area clients that have new ideas, but lack the resources to advance towards proof-of-concept. Graduates students are involved with the Incubator in screening clients, and working with clients to improve intellectual property position and develop initial business plans. Once a client is accepted for full Incubator support, a graduate student is assigned to the client for up to one year in order to perform on-campus research targeted at developing proof-of-concept for the client’s idea. A voucher is included in order to provide for access to University facilities and equipment. Graduate students gain experience in real-world commercialization situations, and simultaneously provide benefit to the area economy.

This paper is a continuation of the paper delivered at ASEE 2001 conference entitled “University of Arkansas Innovation Incubator: Flaming the Sparks of Creativity” by Vickers, Salamo, Loewer and Ahlen1. In the 2002 conference, we will discuss early implementation details of the Innovation Incubator and considerations on clients in active consideration. In addition, we will discuss strategies for managing communications, successes and failures.

A number of policies and procedures have been developed in support of the launch of the Innovation Incubator. The “rules of engagement” have been developed, including the limitation on scope of activity both geographically and technologically. The applicant screening process is fundamentally linked with education goals, since graduate students participate at every stage. In addition, faculty members are involved in the critical decision-making processes. An objective scoring method has been created in order to insure that bias is minimized, and a committee drawing from a broad knowledge and experience base has been created. Clients are rated on five factors that intend to be predictive of success in commercialization.

A major activity of the Incubator is the matching of talents, desires and skills of graduate students with a client opportunity. Ideally, the work that the graduate student completes with a client will lead naturally to a Masters-level thesis.

1 Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Vickers, K., & Loewer, O., & Ahlen, J., & Foster, R., & Salamo, G. (2002, June), Launching An Innovation Incubator In A University Setting Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10799

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