Kauffman Foundation Recognizes Carnegie Mellon As National Leader in Commercialization Efforts

Byron SpiceWednesday, October 27, 2010

Grant to Project Olympus Will Create Grad Student Fellowship

PITTSBURGH—The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation today recognized Carnegie Mellon University for its creative approaches to helping students and faculty move their innovations from the laboratory to the marketplace by awarding a $100,000 grant to the university's Project Olympus for a program to train a select group of student entrepreneurs.

The Project Olympus Commercialization Fellows Program will create a cadre of students who will graduate with the skills necessary to turn their research ideas into commercial products or services. Olympus staff will provide fellows with structured business guidance, incubator space, and connections and visibility through Olympus' networks and events. Fellows will take entrepreneurially oriented courses during their fellowship year on topics including venture capital, business planning and business law.

The Kauffman Foundation today designated three universities — Carnegie Mellon, the University of Missouri System and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — as "Kauffman Commercialization Leaders."

"These universities exhibit a strong commitment to bringing the innovations developed on campuses into the commercial marketplace, which benefits society and ultimately enhances economic growth," said Carl J. Schramm, Kauffman Foundation president and CEO. "We are very pleased to recognize and support their efforts."

"This recognition of Project Olympus is well deserved and serves as another example of Carnegie Mellon's success in bringing innovation to the marketplace," said Carnegie Mellon Vice President of Research Rick McCullough. "Carnegie Mellon is a leader in developing successful spin-out companies, with more then 200 companies created in the past 15 years. We thank the Kaufmann Foundation for their generous grant to assist the next generation of entrepreneurs."

Since 2007, Carnegie Mellon ranks first among all U.S. universities without a medical school in the number of start-up companies created per research dollar spent, based on a report by the Association of University Technology Managers.

The Kauffman Foundation, dedicated to growing economies by advancing entrepreneurship and innovation, developed this new award as a way to shine a spotlight on universities that have developed new models to accelerate the commercialization of technologies developed at the university level.

Since 2007, Carnegie Mellon's Project Olympus has provided start-up advice, micro-grants and incubator space for students and faculty who want to explore the commercial potential of their research ideas, and has helped them make connections with local, regional and national financial resources. Under the direction of Computer Science Professor Lenore Blum, the project is building an infrastructure and developing an entrepreneurial culture that will enable these new businesses to grow in the Pittsburgh region. To date, 38 companies have been formed with Olympus help, including reCAPTCHA Inc., which was acquired last year by Google, and another, Dynamics Inc., that has received major venture capital funding and was featured recently in the New York Times.

"We are excited to be spotlighted by the Kauffman Foundation for our work bridging the gap between university research and economy-stimulating commercialization," Blum said. "It is a great honor to be recognized by the premier organization promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. The new program made possible by this gift will give some of our brightest students the know-how to turn their ideas into products and services that will benefit many people." 

For more information on Project Olympus, visit its website at http://www.olympus.cs.cmu.edu/ and follow Olympus on Twitter @projectolympus. Project Olympus is part of Carnegie Mellon's top-ranked School of Computer Science, www.cs.cmu.edu.

For More Information

Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice@cs.cmu.edu