The Vandal Innovation and Enterprise Works (VIEW) Entrepreneurship Program has evolved to include the following highlights in standard operations through the generous private funding garnered by the College of Business and Economics (CBE):
- Curriculum including 12 credit certificate or marketing major with Entrepreneurship emphasis
- Speaker series on entrepreneurial topics
- Elevator pitch competitions
- Business plan competition with continuation to other regional and national competitions
CBE Dean, Dr. Mario Reyes, is focused on expanding the VIEW program to include additional support for the student teams competing in the annual business plan competition so they can market and launch their businesses.
Gap funds (proof of concept funds) are created to fill the funding “gap” between the idea or technology to where the concept needs to evolve in order to attract an external interest and move forward into becoming a viable business idea.
Creating a gap fund to underwrite business ideas and research at the University of Idaho is a good way to create incentive for faculty, students and staff at the University to work to further develop and refine ideas generated at Idaho for ultimate application to the marketplace. Dean Reyes would like Idaho to have its own VIEW Gap Fund.
A gap fund will provide the following advantages:
- More entrepreneurial culture and to stimulate innovation at the University of Idaho.
- Extensive learning opportunities for students so they can participate in learning how to launch a business and how technology transfer takes place on campus.
- Help business ideas for new technology and large-scale commercialization as well as small businesses and social start-ups.
- Serve as an initial step allowing us to raise private dollars funneled through the UI Foundation for the fund without the complexities, expense and legal hurdles of a fully-functioning angel fund.
- Enable the university to better assess ideas that might be viable for future angel funding.
The process for setting up the gap fund is straightforward. It will be part of the entire programming developed for VIEW and administered by the college. We can give the gap fund a name and begin educating potential donors immediately about the opportunity to help the students and the University of Idaho.
We need to set up a strong group of external advisors for the gap fund to review the ideas and concepts coming from the University’s faculty, students, and/or staff. The group of external advisors will be determined by the CBE Dean with input from the current VIEW Director and the CBE Development Staff.
The group will include representation from UI administration and/or faculty, including the CBE Dean. This group will set up the minimum criteria for being considered for gap award funding and the process for application. There would be an expectation that the external advisors donate to the VIEW gap fund. Each external advisor would be asked to consider personally mentoring at least one of the students receiving support from the gap fund, but it will not be a mandatory requirement to be an external advisor of the fund.
The initial gap fund could be set at $250,000, with $25,000 held for current use to assist students in the following academic year. The remaining $225,000 would be endowed to guarantee a $10,000 per year distribution for assisting student teams for the future. After the initial gap fund is established, we will continue fundraising efforts to secure more current-use funds while building the endowment.