University Innovators from across the country converge at summit

Nov 06, 2012, 14:37 ET from National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)

Daylong program focused on improving university innovation ecosystems—bringing researchers' and students' ideas to impact

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), a nonprofit organization devoted to supporting university invention, innovation and entrepreneurship, with its partners at the University of Maryland - College Park, George Washington University, and Virginia Tech is bringing together leaders in university research-based innovation to catalyze the growth of effective ecosystems supporting their work. The University Innovation Summit will take place on Thursday, November 8 at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, VA.

The Summit, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and The Lemelson Foundation will bring together over 100 leaders, practitioners and supporters of invention and innovation to share practices, discuss resources and generate practical ideas for improving the ecosystem for university invention and innovation. Through an intensive daylong program actively engaging participants in discussion, the Summit will provide an opportunity to both inform participants about relevant services, resources and programs and provide an opportunity to gather their input on how best to support the development of effective and healthy university innovation and commercialization ecosystems to support researchers and students in bringing their ideas to impact. The input provided during the sessions will be used to inform a report and will be shared with participants, sponsors and the broader community.

Interest in entrepreneurship and technology commercialization within U.S. colleges and universities has grown in recent years, especially as related to scientific and technological discoveries. Higher education institutions have developed numerous programs and infrastructure to help faculty explore and realize the potential for commercialization of their research, through technology translation programs, captive incubators and seed funds and increasingly through interdisciplinary educational collaborations between engineering, science and business schools, and co-curricular programming that increases knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship. The NSF and other federal programs, along with private foundations and nonprofit organizations such as The Lemelson Foundation have supported these efforts to strengthen the higher education entrepreneurial ecosystem leading to increased commercialization of research based innovations.  

In the United States, the federal government invests $148 billion annually in basic research, more than any other country. According to Phil Weilerstein, Executive Director of NCIIA, "While world-changing successes have resulted from this investment, an even greater opportunity exists to fully capitalize on this investment for the benefit of society. Additional pathways are needed to launch more innovators and generate more innovations with clearly identified applications and markets and effective approaches. Supporting the generation of robust innovation ecosystems around the university research enterprise is critical to generating career opportunities for emerging STEM graduate students, commercialization returns for universities and economic growth for the U.S. economy."

The NCIIA catalyzes positive social and environmental impact through invention and technological innovation by providing funding, training and mentoring for university faculty and student innovators. With support from The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation and a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages approximately 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their campuses as working laboratories for invention and innovation and incubators for businesses, and ultimately helping them to bring their ideas to market. For more information, please visit

About the NSF
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, its budget is $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards nearly $420 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

About The Lemelson Foundation
The Lemelson Foundation works to inspire and enable the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises in order to build a stronger US economy and create social and economic change for the poor in developing countries. For more information, visit

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SOURCE National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)