10 College Business Incubators We’re Most Excited About
College campuses are ripe with innovation, as students grow through education and experimentation in school. To help foster this innovation, many colleges and universities have opened business incubators, helping students and others in their community to help make their innovative dreams a reality. Whether they’re offering tricked-out labs or incredible funding opportunities, these incubators offer a great opportunity for students who are smart (and lucky!) enough to participate. Follow along as we explore 10 of the most exciting college business incubators around today, and be sure to share your own favorites in the comments.
At Rochester Institute of Technology’s Entrepreneurs Hall, innovation is a way of life. Offering a “holistic entrepreneurship program,” this residential community has entrepreneurship at every step of the college experience. Within the community, residents get access to co-ops, mentoring, courses, and always-on access to the incubator. Students will even receive a minor in entrepreneurship as they develop their own business plans. Even students who aren’t in Entrepreneurship Hall can join other innovators at Rochester, in the Center for Student Innovation lab where they can tinker with new ideas, creating physical models and getting advice for their next steps from advisors and even other student participants.
At Boston University, there’s an incredible array on business incubation opportunities. Boasting resources for life sciences, bio-tech, medical devices, photonics, clean energy, and engineering, BU can help to incubate businesses in just about any physical technology. Only 15 technology startups are accepted at a time, but what the program lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Participants in the incubation program learn valuable lessons in entrepreneurial management, finding financing from incubator companies, modern office space, and fully permitted labs with a wide range of technical equipment and engineering resources. Boston University’s business incubator has produced numerous success stories, including HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals with two drugs in Stage 2 clinical development to treat blood disorders and viral-related cancers, as well as Modular Genetics, a biotechnology company focused on sustainable gene engineering.
Students at Syracuse University have an incredible resource to tap into with the Syracuse Student Sandbox. This program offers resources from beginning to end, offering office space, in-house technical support, experienced mentors, and valuable funding resources. The Sandbox is designed to accelerate the process of business creation through a 12-week experiential-based program, producing either investment-ready firms or ready-to-go, revenue-generating entities. Although Syracuse offers a heavy amount of help, students are able to maintain 100% equity in their companies, making this a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded Syracuse students. Current participants include Craftistas, CrowdRouser, and Flat Shoes Tattoos.
At the UC Davis College of Engineering, students with high-impact, innovative ideas can find a way to speed them up into the marketplace. This incubator is all about supporting technology transfer, sharing learning experiences with students, providing professor support, and facilitating partnerships and collaborations with other groups on campus, like the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship. This year, the ETTC graduated its first company, Dysonics, a startup based on audio technology research. Dysonics secured $750,000 in funding from angel investors to develop products that will reproduce three-dimensional, immersive sound in headphones.
At the Harvard i-lab, it’s all about innovation, as participants take part in entrepreneurial activities to learn, launch, grow, and even support others in creation. The program features classes, workshops, and more, plus essential resources and advice for getting business ventures off the ground. Even established ventures can get help, with growth resources including dedicated space and focused support. Some of the i-lab’s long-term residents include mobile app ActivePepper, baby gear rental company Baby Buggle, and software developer Rover.
In partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Innovation Depot offers a facility and program for technology business development, focusing on biotechnology, life science, information technology, and technology service businesses. With a next-generation facility offering both office space and laboratory space full of amenities, it’s a great place to locate a technology startup. Successful companies currently taking part in the Innovation Depot program include Panorama Public Relations, R&D trainer Gas Technology Institute, and tech support company Radical Support.
This business incubator takes innovation to the water, functioning as an “economic engine” for Eastern Long Island’s aquacultural, environmental, and agricultural industries. The location of this incubator is key, as it’s right off of Long Island Sound and located close to many nature preserves. Plus, it’s within a designated NYS Empire Zone, so the incubator has benefits and incentives available to program participants, including investment tax credits, wage tax credits, and even exemption from sales tax. Within the building, you’ll find plenty of tricked-out lab space (including both fresh and salt-water access) for innovation, plus conference and event space for tenants.
In the Motor City, technology startups can turn to the super-cool Tech Town incubator, a program created by Wayne State University to reignite Detroit’s entrepreneurial culture. Founded in 2000, Tech Town boasts an incredible list of resources for tech-minded entrepreneurs, including work space, access to capital, educational workshops, and guidance with business development programs, coaching, and mentoring. Entrepreneurs working with Tech Town even get access to Wayne State’s significant research, academic, and technology assets. Although decidedly urban in nature, Tech Town boasts 12 blocks, 43 acres, and a rich history: the TechOne building was once the Chevy Creative Services building, and the Corvette was designed on the building’s third floor. With nearly 300 companies working under its roof, participants in the Tech Town program contribute to the growth and livelihood of Detroit and the Wayne State University community. Even established corporations can’t resist the attraction of Tech Town: the Henry Ford Health System relocated its genetics labs to Tech Town’s research space.
This tech business incubator hits early, even before participants are in college. Founded by a 15-year-old (now 19), Teens in Tech Labs is a tech incubator for teens with Microsoft backing, and it’s designed to give young entrepreneurs a space to get their great ideas out with a whole lot of support. Nearly 1,000 young entrepreneurs have been touched by the program, through events, workshops, and conferences. Based in Mountain View, Calif., with hubs in New York City and Boston, Teens in Tech Labs has opened up its incubator to young entrepreneurs worldwide, making it possible for teens everywhere to take advantage of the tools and resources available.
NYU-Poly has not one, but four business incubators, boasting incredible support for fledgling businesses in the greater New York City area. Its first, Brooklyn Enterprise on Science and Technology (BEST) helps science and technology companies grow with a student patent program, intellectual property commercialization, help from business advisors, and funding recommendations. Varick Street focuses on next-gen technology and adaptable business models, growing businesses in digital media, cleantech, and even social media and mobile apps into real life successful startups. Through NYC ACRE, NYU-Poly builds clean tech and renewable energy companies, sharing resources for physical and virtual tenants, while offering guidance and business assistance. Most recently, NYU-Poly has introduced DUMBO, a city-sponsored business incubator in Brooklyn created to support the development of technology startup businesses. Boasting an awesome view of the Brooklyn Bridge, event space, coworking areas, and plenty of guidance, DUMBO is one of the most up and coming places in the city to start a business. Participants can even take advantage of networking opportunities, discounted legal and accounting guidance, guidance from NYU-Poly faculty, and office hours with well-known entrepreneurs.