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Relationships between academic institutions and business incubation programs create benefits for everyone involved. Here's a look at the ways incubators, entrepreneurs, students, faculty, and academic institutions win when they work together.

A meeting of minds: It’s educational all around when incubators and academia come together

by Mary Alice Casey and Corinne Colbert

February 2006

Jan DeYoung, director of the St. Louis Enterprise Centers, is giddy as a schoolboy – an apt analogy, considering that new linkages with his area’s academic institutions are the cause of the excitement.

The latest development is a plan for a four-week entrepreneurship academy for 15 to 30 high school students from three local districts, employing a curriculum already used by St. Louis University, another Enterprise Centers partner. Hosted by the Enterprise Centers, the academy would use incubator clients as examples and resources; university graduate students would mentor individual students.

The project has the full and enthusiastic backing of school superintendents, chambers of commerce and the university’s John Cook School of Business, DeYoung says. “I can’t tell you how exciting this development is,” he says.

About one-fourth of North American incubators are sponsored by academic institutions; many more programs have formal or informal agreements with colleges and universities, proving that incubators and their clients need not be sponsored by a university to avail themselves of campus resources. Nor do they have to be near a major research university to reap the benefits: Community colleges are partnering with incubators, too.

Here’s a look at the ways incubators, clients, students and universities win when they work together.

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Keywords: partnerships -- organizational/corporate, sponsor, stakeholder development, student intern, technology commercialization, university partnerships

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