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Dartmouth and UNH Invest in Student Innovation
Published Friday, March 14, 2014

New Hampshire’s startup ecosystem continues to grow with the addition of two innovation centers that opened late last year at the University of NH in Durham and Dartmouth College in Hanover. Both aim to foster the development of startups on campus and introduce more students to entrepreneurship.

UNH Innovation in Durham is designed to be an innovation hub for the university by creating and growing startups, increasing technology licensing, connecting area companies with university resources, and encouraging entrepreneurship on campus.

“It’s a kind of reimagining of the output of the university beyond a graduate,” says Marc Sedam, director of UNH Innovation. “In the past we were capable of doing many of these things, but we haven’t done them in a coordinated fashion. It’s the old make a job, don’t take a job. We feel it’s part of our obligation to students to teach them not only a discipline they are interested in, but also teach them the application of that discipline, and entrepreneurship is a great way to do that.”

Sedam says UNH Innovation will have three primary goals: connect more area businesses with the multimillion dollar equipment at UNH along with students to run it; turn more of the $150 million to $300 million in university research into technology licenses and startup companies; and create a renewed focus on teaching and offering first-hand experience in entrepreneurship to students across disciplines.

In Hanover, the Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator will be a place for students and faculty to develop their own ideas into new companies. While Dartmouth College already had the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center (DRTC) for startups needing lab and office space, the new center gives students and faculty a place to create companies. The new center is led by Jamie Coughlin, who formerly led the abi Innovation Hub in Manchester. The Dartmouth center is funded by $3 million in donations.

Coughlin says the center, which is located on campus (the DRTC is 3 miles away), will be a hub of activity around entrepreneurship and offer speaker series, workshops, and spaces to collaborate with other students. “We asked ourselves: What about activities that happen prior to formation? Maybe I want to be exposed to entrepreneurship. Where do the different clubs from the hacker club to the entrepreneur club meet? Or, I have an idea; where do I meet like-minded people that can accelerate and grow that idea,” says Coughlin.

Coughlin says the center looks to organize and energize the current entrepreneurial ecosystem when it comes to undergraduates who have traditionally not been exposed to entrepreneurship. He says the new 3,000-square-foot space is designed like the abi with open collaboration in mind, to host residencies for entrepreneurs, and help connect students with executives, faculty, and investors. Coughlin also now heads the NH Business Incubator Network, which was set up years ago to connect incubators across the state. He hopes it will once again create an entrepreneurial network across the state.

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