The University of Chicago has committed to investing $25 million from its endowment to fund over 10 years into startups launched by faculty, staff, students or alumni.
This year, entrepreneur Michael Polsky, a Booth School of Business graduate, donated $35 million to boost the school's entrepreneurship efforts. Two years ago, the university created a $20 million innovation fund to bankroll startups from faculty, staff and students at U of C, as well as from Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab. It also launched a business incubator, the Chicago Innovation Exchange.
U of C is encouraging more people affiliated with the school to turn technology developed on campus into private companies. For its latest effort, potential startup investments will be vetted by the Polsky Center staff with the university's Office of Investments, which oversees the endowment, making the final call.
“It should send a very strong signal that says to our venture partners, innovators and entrepreneurs that we intend to make U of C the place to be if you want to start a company and create a success,” John Flavin, an associate vice president at the university, said.
Flavin heads the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“This is us betting on ourselves, working with outside firms who also are betting on success,” Flavin said. “The purpose of the endowment is to create a financial return.”