University-based innovation and entrepreneurship in Fairfield County is ready to take off thanks to CTNext’s grant of almost $120,000 to the University of Bridgeport for 2018. In its application, UB proposed to create a consortium of private and public higher education institutions to develop an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional network and accelerate the growth of new business/technical ventures in southwest Connecticut. Partner institutions include Housatonic Community College, Norwalk Community College, and Fairfield University. Mentoring and technical support will be provided by the University of Bridgeport and the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Gad Selig, UB’s dean for industry outreach and business development, spearheaded proposal development, noting that there is as-of-yet untapped potential among faculty and students at UB and its partner institutions. Selig explains, “This project seeks to address a critical need in Connecticut promoting invention and commercialization of new products and technologies for small and medium sized institutions that cannot afford to create and sustain such an effort on their own and may not have the resources, both physically and virtually to do so.” Critical project activities include step-by-step mentoring, evaluation of commercialization potential, licensing, IP and technical support to be systematized through a three-tiered process.

Dr. Tarek M. Sobh, UB’s senior vice president for graduate studies and research adds, “This grant award validates the need to maximize mechanisms that identify and cultivate the growth of business and technology ventures in Connecticut.  This requires uncovering those ‘diamonds-in-the-rough’ at UB and partner institutions. Connecticut’s economy depends on it.”

The ambitious project build’s on UB’s new Innovation Center made possible by a $2.3 million donation to UB by Fairfield County Philanthropists Mr. and Mrs. George Bauer and on UB’s CTECH IncUBator, the only university-based incubator in Fairfield County that was opened in 2010 in partnership with Connecticut Innovations. CTNext is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Connecticut Innovations.

Contributed by Christine Hempowicz