Their Innovatively Increasing Access to Capital program improves access to capital for incubator clients and entrepreneurs throughout the state of North Dakota. The Center for Innovation has developed a unique and varied menu of capital options for entrepreneurs, including the nation’s first fully student-run venture fund for ventures, a statewide network of angel investment funds for growth companies, and a program to facilitate foreign direct investment in later-stage companies throughout the region.
The Center for Innovation has provided education to potential investors on the value of funding new companies, has facilitated formation of nine angel investor funds (that over six years have invested $26 million in 38 enterprises), and is in the process of aiding formation of more angel funds. Uniquely, the program established the Dakota Venture Group, the country’s first investment fund fully managed entirely by students, and which has led to Harvest Fund LLC, the country’s first student-run for-profit investment fund.
Most recently, the UND Center for Innovation Foundation launched the EB-5 Regional Center, which matches North Dakota and Minnesota businesses with foreign investors through the USCIS EB-5 investment-based visa program.
The UND Center for Innovation has also aided more than 40 companies in gaining more than $37 million in federal SBIR/STTR grants.
The UND Center for Innovation was started in 1984 and was among the first entrepreneur outreach centers in the nation. In 1996, the Center opened the first tech incubator in the Upper Great Plains, and the Center for Innovation Foundation built the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center in 2005. The Center for Innovation has received 15 national and international awards for excellence in entrepreneurship, incubation, and tech-based economic development. In 2012, the Center was re-certified as a “Soft Landing International Incubator” for the fourth time, one of just 27 incubators worldwide so designated for being well suited for international entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneur programs like the Center for Innovation catalyze the process of starting and growing ventures by providing entrepreneurs with the entrepreneur expertise, networks and tools they need to make their ventures successful. Approximately 7,000 business incubators operate worldwide.
The National Business Incubation Association is the world's leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship. Each year, the NBIA Incubation Awards honor the business incubation programs, graduates and client companies that exemplify the best of the industry.The Incubator Innovation Award recognizes incubators that have developed and implemented innovative activities that help them better serve their clients or more effectively accomplish their missions. The project, program or activity can be of short or long duration.