Helping Startups Succeed—and Stay—in the Midwest
At the University of Minnesota, launching a new company is one of several ways that breakthrough research can move beyond the lab to benefit the public. But finding the right leader, with the right experience, to bring these new technologies to market can be difficult.
“Leadership is just as important as intellectual property to a startup’s success,” said Mary MacCarthy, Venture Center program manager with the U’s Venture Center in the Office for Technology Commercialization. “The biggest challenge the U of M has with launching our startups is finding skilled, available CEOs with experience in particular industries.”
A new network comprising 11 Midwest universities’ technology transfer offices aims to address this leadership gap. Midwest Executives-on-Roster (XOR), a software platform launched today, will broaden universities’ access to experienced entrepreneurial talent and help match that talent to university startups in need of executive management.
Development of the network was led by the University of Kentucky’s Office of Technology Commercialization and modeled after the Southeast XOR program, which networks universities in the Southeastern Conference (including University of Kentucky).
The scope of university research tends to be broader and more diverse than the entrepreneur and funding opportunities locally available to that university—and this talent gap can limit startups’ success in bringing new technologies to market. Midwest XOR combines the entrepreneur networks of all participating universities to give new startups access to a larger pool of skilled leaders who have already demonstrated their business expertise with their local university.
The network will help retain startups in the Midwest where they can boost the regional economy, MacCarthy said, instead of moving to the East Coast or West Coast. Experienced CEOs are more likely, for example, to convince investors to keep startups in Minnesota.
“This program will encourage and facilitate Midwest leaders with a passion for entrepreneurship to consider leading a startup based on a Midwest university’s intellectual property,” she added.
Six experienced Twin Cities-based entrepreneurs in the U of M’s network have already applied for the network, and the Venture Center has already posted one U of M startup in need of a CEO.
See the news release for more about the Midwest XOR network.