UVA Creating Jobs Through Student Ventures
While most college students scramble to find summer jobs, a handful of students at the University of Virginia will spend their summer trying to create some. This summer, the Darden Business Incubator will host 18 entrepreneurship ventures as MBA students -- and others in the U.Va. community -- bring early-stage business ventures to life.
Highlighted among this year's ventures are a "socially impactful private equity and economic development fund" in Africa as well as a business based on individualized print media. Others mentioned include an online medical supplies company, a geriatric consulting business, an event-based social networking website and a wholesale plant nursery.
The program is part of a growing trend on college campuses. According to figures attributed to the National Business Incubation Association, 30 business incubators have opened in association with colleges and universities in the past three years -- bring the total to approximately 125 of the 800 business incubators in North America.
The Darden Business Incubator supplies each venture with more than $13,000, physical office space, help in finding third-party investment support, and a supportive community of fellow entrepreneurs over the course of a year. Projects are selected on the basis of the commitment of the students, the details of the business plan and the research behind it. Once in the incubator, participants are encouraged to establish an advisory board.
The incubator, operational for nine years, has seen nearly 50 percent of the ventures survive the five-year mark. But this is more than just students forming simple IT support businesses. Last year, Global Cell Solutions (a Darden-backed venture) commercialized a technology hailed as one of the 10 "most exciting tools to hit the life sciences" by The Scientist magazine.
[photo courtesy glennharper ]