I-Start Program Launching Soon, IL DCEO Awards Grant Funding

Category : Investments
Posted on: July 25, 2011

EnterpriseWorks is creating a new entrepreneur kick-start program to help launch more companies out of the University of Illinois. EnterpriseWorks is developing the I-Start program to encourage more University of Illinois inventors to pursue start-up formation and commercialization of their research and technology. Working alongside proof-of-concept funding programs, I-Start will help facilitate the administrative and professional service work related to forming a new company, which can seem overwhelming and time consuming to new entrepreneurs. I-Start will offer a suite of first year startup services for new University of Illinois entrepreneurs including business development, business plan writing, legal setup, SBIR application, financial statements, marketing assistance, and human resources/payroll assistance. The I-Start program is designed to complement participation in the EnterpriseWorks incubator, which provides a supportive environment for new entrepreneurs to locate with other new startup companies. EnterpriseWorks will be offering the I-Start program through a cost sharing model, with funding provided on a competitive basis and awarded based on the potential of the faculty member (or qualified entrepreneur) and technology to have commercialization success. EnterpriseWorks would support funding for the program as a part of its incubation program. Funding provided by EnterpriseWorks, would overtime be considered “repaid” through rent, accounted by crediting half of future rent towards pay-off of I-Start services provided upfront to the new company. 

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has generously awarded a grant to EnterpriseWorks at the University of Illinois to provide additionally funding to allow the program to support more entrepreneurs from the University of Illinois. With new funding provided by the grant from DCEO, combined with funding from the Research Park, it is anticipated that 15 new startup firms can participate in the program over an 18 month launch period. There will be two levels of funding available for I-START program. The first option is 90% upfront funding by EnterpriseWorks and DCEO and the remainder of the cost paid by the entrepreneur. This will include a competitive selection process to qualify for the program with input from the Office of Technology Management and EIR advisors. The second option is for the company to fund 50% of the services while EnterpriseWorks and DCEO fund the other 50%. This will also include an internal application process with input from OTM, but will be less restrictive. Additionally, a company may elect to fund 100% of the program upfront, requiring no repayment and qualification through EnterpriseWorks application. 

Applications and service agreements are being developed for the new I-Start Program. If you are interested in being considered for the program please contact Laura Frerichs or speak with a Technology Manager at the UI Office of Technology Management.