The University of Minnesota's Office of Technology Commercialization, which has increased the number of businesses born from university research, announced Tuesday a partnership with Wisconsin-based "Gener8tor" the start-up business accelerator.
"This will increase the probability of success of our start-ups … and give our start-ups access to a broader universe of investors," said Jay Schrankler, an electrical engineer and industry veteran who was hired in 2008 amid criticism that the U allowed too much technology to languish in the lab.
"Gener8tor has a great track record of success in helping validate and scale early-stage companies and we think this partnership is another innovative step," Schrankler said. "They have access to a broad investor network.
"Our leadership at the university and the broader Minnesota business community look to us to transform our researchers' discoveries into companies and useful technologies that contribute to economic growth and public good."
Mark McGuire, a Gener8tor principal and veteran start-up founder, will come aboard the technology office's "venture center" to serve as executive of its Discovery Capital Investment program, and to recruit private matching capital for promising U start-ups.
Discovery Capital typically invests in three university start-ups annually. Last year, it invested $1.1 million that leveraged $9 million in outside, private investment in three start-ups.
At any one point in time there are 30 potential start-ups in the U pipeline, awaiting funding.
Gener8tor's gBeta accelerator will also be offered to select start-ups.
It is a free, six-week program that provides early-stage companies with entrepreneurial curriculum, mentoring and access to national investors, technologists and corporate partners.
McGuire said this will be Gener8tor's inaugural move into Minnesota and the first time it has partnered with a university seed-equity program.
Gener8tor has run five gBeta accelerator programs in Wisconsin.
It is funded by American Family Insurance and the University of Wisconsin's private-technology transfer arm, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
"We think there is tremendous potential in world class institutions like the University of Minnesota, and we are thrilled to be working with Jay and the rest of the OTC team to help launch world class start-ups into the Minnesota ecosystem," Joe Kirgues, a co-founder of Gener8tor in 2012, said in a prepared statement.
Gener8tor said 42 of its accelerator graduates have cumulatively raised nearly $100 million in follow-on financing or been acquired.
In August, the U announced that it had launched a record 17 start-up companies over the past year based on discoveries and inventions by its researchers.
The university said 82 of the 100 start-ups it has launched over the last 10 years are still in business.
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144