Clark State Community College and Ikove Venture Partners have joined forces in an effort to encourage local students and individuals to bring their technology ideas to fruition.
“Clark State is constantly seeking partnerships that benefit our students, and this unique opportunity allows them to learn technical as well as entrepreneurship skills,” said Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin. “Additionally, Ikove benefits from our student talent and manufacturing maker space.”
Ikove Venture Partners (IVP) is a "Startup Nursery" focused on identifying "concept” technologies currently in development at colleges and universities and creating an ecosystem for those technologies to develop into successful startups.
James Mainord, chief operations officer for Ikove, said the company was founded in 2014 for the purpose of seeking out and funding specific technical projects and moving them from the lab to a viable market. “Ikove offers a start-up process. We don’t invest in companies. We invest in people and technologies,” he said. “There is great value to be had in both.”
Clark State will offer “maker space” for special product development backed by Ikove. “We will also offer our talent in terms of students, who will work on various projects with Ikove,” said Dr. Amit Singh, provost and vice president of academic affairs for Clark State. “It will provide our students important business and technical skills.”
As part of this collaboration, Ikove and Clark State are planning to host a “Pitch Night” this spring where students and local innovators are invited to present their ideas to a panel of experts. “It won’t be like a business plan competition where student groups have been working together and pitch to win a cash prize,” said Mainord. “This is engaging the students at a much earlier stage. This will be set up to be the beginning of the business development process.”
The panel will provide feedback, and then, if interest is sufficient, they will discuss opportunities and structures to move forward. “If their idea is valuable – revolutionary or evolutionary – there is a need to protect it,” said Mainord. “We can start working with that person on developing their business plan, working through the start-up nursery process and pushing to a larger market.”
Mainord said strong partnerships with colleges like Clark State are vital to identifying an untapped talent pool; and he wants Clark State students to realize their “dream job” without having to leave the area. “I want them to know that it can exist close to home, but it can also exist with you as the person starting it.”