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University Partners with SBDC to Improve Entrepreneurial Opportunities

The University of Mississippi and the Mississippi Small Business Development Center have launched a pilot program to assist UM employees interested in starting new businesses out of the university’s research enterprise.

Based in the UM Office of Technology Commercialization, or OTC, the program’s main goal is developing faster, more effective pathways to ease the creation of companies based on university technologies.

“This is another important step in the growth of UM’s commercialization efforts,” said Allyson Best, OTC director. “Early operational support is critical to the success of startups and their ability to contribute to the economic development of the region and state.

“We are fortunate to have many resources in UM’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, but this will provide our startups with a dedicated point of contact to help them connect and leverage all of them.”

The new program means that Derek Stephens, a business counselor at the Small Business Development Center on the Ole Miss campus, will work closely with the OTC to provide greater entrepreneurial support for faculty and staff startups.

“Startup companies launched out of university research are such an important component to technology commercialization,” Stephens said. “My role will be to provide additional value in areas such as market assessment, business planning, financials and company formation.

“I’m thrilled to collaborate with OTC and further support commercialization efforts out of UM.”

Some of the new program’s goals are to:

  • Seek to increase the number of UM technologies licensed to commercial partners
  • Ensure that research outcomes with commercial potential are protected and then transferred to the private sector
  • Identify innovation and technology having commercial or practical potential and alert industry and state and local governments to its availability
  • Transfer expertise and equipment available from the federal government to the private sector
  • Transfer innovation and technology from business to business

The program is modeled after similar long-standing programs in other Small Business Development Center networks in states such as Arkansas, Georgia and North Carolina.

“The Small Business Development Center networks are tasked to connect university resources to the small business and entrepreneurship community,” said Sharon Nichols, state director of the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, or SBDC. “Applying this connectedness as it applies to university partners, we have taken time to map SBDC services with other university partners at UM to find alignment.

“At the SBDC, we stand by collaboration and not duplication to best serve the entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the state of Mississippi.”

The pilot program also will align the duties and activities of the OTC and the center, including assisting external collaborations, technology transfer and economic development; supporting business development efforts of individual departments and centers or institutes on campus; working through existing networks; and exploring the viability of developing shared production facilities under appropriate circumstances.

Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Mississippi Small Business Development Center features seven regional centers across the state and plays an important role in the entrepreneurial network of the state, helping more than 230 businesses open that provided more than 900 new jobs in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

For more information, visit http://mssbdc.org/.

By Shea Stewart

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