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K-State Today

April 5, 2023

New funding to drive technology commercialization, regional entrepreneurship

Submitted by Stephanie Pierce

K-State Innovation Partners is helping to advance an investment continuum in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for Research at Kansas State University, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce and multiple entrepreneurial support organizations. The continuum will enhance the deployment of K-State innovations and facilitate technology-based startups from K-State and the Manhattan region.

"The investment continuum will provide innovative faculty and entrepreneurs with a linear path of overlapping funding opportunities and clearly stated criteria for each opportunity," said Rebecca Robinson, CEO and president of K-State Innovation Partners. "This will demystify an important element of the technology development and entrepreneurial process and help drive interest in engaging in technology development, advancement and deployment."

The four funding mechanisms include two K-State-specific funds as well as two funds from the Manhattan regional community that will be accessible to community entrepreneurs, including K-State startups.

1. The Pathway to Commercialization Grant Program, or P2C, is a new collaborative program implemented by the Office of the Vice President for Research in partnership with K-State Innovation Partners to encourage the advancement of commercially viable early stage, pre-disclosure research by faculty at K-State. P2C is a competitive grant program that will help faculty inventors start to engage in the commercialization process with concepts or research that have not yet yielded a technology disclosure, and which are currently purely conceptual in nature or have not yet advanced to the point of garnering other grant funding. This grant funding opportunity will open this spring.
2. The K-State Innovation Partners Innovation Advancement Fund provides capital to advance previously disclosed K-State-developed technologies. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis as proposed by KSU-IP staff. Proposals will be reviewed by an investment review committee, and technologies with demonstrated commercial potential and a defined path to market will be selected for further development and advancement opportunities.
3. The Entrepreneurial Evergreen Equity Investment Fund will provide investments in technology-based high growth potential startups and early-stage companies that either develop from within the region or are being attracted to the region. $3 million in total capital will be raised via charitable contributions beginning in 2023, and the fund is anticipated to be launched in late 2024.
4. The Elevate Community Fund will assist Manhattan area for-profit businesses with funding for growth and expansion projects that will drive economic activity in the region. This funding will strengthen and grow small businesses; dedicate funds toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion; assist businesses in becoming bankable; and provide gap financing. A total of $3 million will be raised for this fund. Once capital is raised, the funds will be available to businesses in the community through a revolving loan program as well as a grant program planned to be developed in the future.

"These funds not only help identify a pathway for innovation at K-State but also put needed resources behind it," said David Rosowsky, vice president for research. "This investment continuum will help spur technology commercialization, licensing, startups and so much more."

"Developing a continuum of potential funding for entrepreneurs creates a pipeline of opportunities to grow the regional economy through startup companies," said Daryn Soldan, director of economic development, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. "Initiatives like these directly align with the region’s strategic economic development plan."

More information regarding the funding programs will be announced later this spring.

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