Academia Beckons: Launching the BU Kindle Mentoring Program


I joined Boston University (BU) as a Lecturer and Executive-in-Residence in January 2008 and have been teaching courses on entrepreneurship to MBA students. My academic career has expanded recently with two projects.

First, I am collaborating with a friend and colleague Vivek Wadhwa at Duke University (I’m now an Adjunct Research Scientist at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering) to expand on his study about the impact of entrepreneurs on technology startups in the U.S. We are researching the impact of skilled immigrants on other sectors such as academia, retail, hospitality, healthcare, etc.

Second, I am launching the BU Kindle mentoring program to educate faculty, students, and alumni to facilitate early stage business formation. BU Kindle provides a unique opportunity for seasoned entrepreneurs and business executives to have direct and meaningful interaction with the BU community.

The Boston University Kindle Mentoring Program

MIT has several mentoring programs that have been instrumental in the institute’s success at commercialization and company formation. The MIT Enterprise Forum, the MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS), the catalyst program at the Deshpande Center, and the MIT-HST Biomatrix are providing mentoring services to different constituencies.

BU has 3,900 faculty, 2000 laboratories, and 13,000 graduate students and received $336 million in external research funding in FY2008 (July 2007-June 2008). According to the Association of University Technology Managers’ 2006 licensing survey of US and Canadian institutions receiving more than $250 million in research funding, BU was at the bottom of the 3rd quartile for research dollars spent per license granted.

BU Kindle is a step towards accelerating commercialization of BU intellectual property and to encourage BU faculty and students to launch commercial ventures. BU Kindle will connect BU faculty and students to seasoned entrepreneurs and business executives in Massachusetts by creating a custom mentoring model based on the ones at MIT, including the MIT VMS.

BU Kindle joins several other programs at BU that support and encourage commercialization:

Program Mission History Budget
Launch Up to $250K investment in spin-off research. Renamed five years ago, predecessor created in 1998. $3M
Ignition Ignition awards are $50K for research with commercialization promise. Renamed five years ago, predecessor created in 1998. $350K annually
Coulter Commercialize biomedical research. Coulter Foundation funding six centers across the US for commercializing biomedical research. Began 2-3 years ago. $1M annually
Fraunhofer Alliance Automation and manufacturing engineering projects pre-commercialization. One of 50 Fraunhofer Institutes. Is on BU campus. Established in 2005. 50-50 shared royalties. $1M annually for 5 years. 50 percent funded by BU.
BRIDGE Boston University Clinical and Translational Science (BU-BRIDGE) Institute. 2008 NIH grant. $23M over 5 years
Business Incubator Incubate BU technology-related companies, primarily for government-funded research. Founded 2000. Commercial lease
BDIC Incubator within Biosquare for life sciences research. Founded 1994. Commercial lease

Additionally, BU created ITEC, the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization, in 2007 with the mandate to integrate entrepreneurial activities across the university. ITEC has developed several innovative programs, including eSPRIT (Entrepreneurial Students Participating in Research and Innovative Technologies) and a $50K business plan competition for students. Furthermore, BU students run several entrepreneurial focused clubs where students gather to learn about opportunities and form teams to pursue opportunities.

Vinit Nijhawan was Managing Director, Office of Technology Development at Boston University where he launched 8 venture-backed spinoffs. Vinit teaches MBA courses on Entrepreneurship at BU Questrom School of Business, over 350 students have taken his courses. Follow @vinit44

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