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3 Ways a University Can Help Your Startup

Date: September 15, 2014

Learning centers for small business owners provide access to valuable resources and information

Chicago-based ProofX CEO Dima Elissa has a history of launching technology and staffing businesses. No matter the location, she says, entrepreneurship centers at local universities, academies and technology centers play an important part in getting new businesses off the ground. “The talent can be astounding, from my experience,” she says. “They have the latest and greatest access to technology and information.”

Here are three of their biggest benefits for entrepreneurs:

1. Top-tier interns

College internship programs provide startups with talent “that is like a diamond in the rough before anybody else gets exposed to them,” says Elissa. ProofX, which focuses on 3-D biomedical printing and prototyping, recently enlisted summer interns through Duke University and the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul University in Chicago.

At no cost to the company, the Coleman intern arrived trained in marketing tactics and prepared to conduct surveys to assess the readiness of local hospitals and physicians groups for 3-D printing.

2. Access to research

Universities are hotbeds of research with tools to address challenges that startups can’t afford. For ProofX, another advantage of working with a university was that it gained access to advanced levels of market information through databases and online resources—normally very expensive tools.

3. Product development

When Peggy Andrews launched her first candy company, Dosha Pops, last year in New York City, she needed help. “The cost of building or renting a private commercial kitchen is too expensive for a small food business,” she says.

Andrews found her solution in Union Food Lab, a kitchen incubator at nearby Union Theological Seminary. She began renting kitchen and storage space; within months, she was moving product and recouping the rental fees. Her connection provides her many other benefits, including product showcasing events, recipe development and licensing assistance.

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