The Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, also known as the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Energy Center, collaborated with Nebraska Public Power District, NUtech Ventures and Innosphere Ventures and conducted an Energy Center Entrepreneurship Workshop.
NU research faculty, postdocs and graduate students who have been involved with NCESR funded research projects learned from Innosphere Ventures about strategies for starting, funding and being successful with their own company. NUtech presented an overview of intellectual property, how to disclose new inventions to their office, how licensing works and some additional training opportunities. Entrepreneurs within the community served as guest panelists and shared their knowledge and experiences.
In order to put into practice some of what they learned, participants received coaching about how to create and present a brief pitch deck. This was more for fun and the experience, but the competitiveness came out in some of the participants. First place winner of the pitch was Jiong Hu, professor and associate chair for graduate programs in civil and environmental engineering. Second place winner was Arafat Alam, graduate student in civil and environmental engineering.
“I just wanted to thank NUtech and NCESR for hosting this Energy Center Entrepreneurship Workshop,” Hu said. “As a researcher, we always want our research products to be applied and used, as it will benefit not just us at UNL, but also the entire society. However, we don’t always think from the entrepreneurial viewpoint, which often narrows the opportunities and limits the impact on the larger community. The workshop gave us a comprehensive view of how to better position ourselves to put our products on the market. It was also a great experience to pitch our research products in front of the guest panel with local entrepreneurs and funding organizations and receive constructive feedback from the experts. I look forward to opportunities that might present in the near future. Once again, thanks for all the efforts in organizing the workshop.”
Joy Eakin, entrepreneurship program manager at NUtech Ventures, said that for many participants, this was a first taste of what is involved in starting up their own company. For others, this provided more direction for the technology commercialization path they’ve already chosen. The positive feedback from participants affirmed it was a successful workshop, and the partners are exploring the possibility of making it an annual event.
The NCESR was established in 2006 and is a collaboration between NPPD and Nebraska U. The Center supports innovative research and interdisciplinary collaboration by annually funding competitive two-year seed grants for energy sciences research. The mission is to conduct energy research that produces new technologies, processes and systems that provide new or significantly enhanced renewable energy sources and improves the quality of life and economic opportunity for all Nebraskans.
“The unique collaboration between NUtech, Innosphere, and the Energy Center has set a model in place for effective entrepreneurial training,” said Jerry Hudgins, interim director of the NCESR. “The focus on the energy sector is of course foundational to economic development in Nebraska and in support of the strategic goals of the University of Nebraska. We look forward to continuing and expanding this successful activity next year.”