CARBONDALE — Two programs launched recently within Southern Illinois Research Park are designed to take area research from the SIU community and get it on track to commercial or business success.
And an added goal that has evolved through partnering efforts of the research park with SIU College of Business Innovation Hub and Illinois Small Business Development Center is to not only help individuals and researchers gain a foothold to success, but keeping the research base and business activity in Southern Illinois as well.
“We look at how research being done here can benefit society and stay in the marketplace. And we’re trying to keep it here,” said Lynn Andersen Lindberg, associate director at the research park and director of business innovation and research at SIU.
It’s a tough challenge as larger metropolitan areas can offer more avenues to start-ups such as different ways to larger amounts of finance. But, the Research Park staff is chalking up some success stories with Operation Mousetrap, a technology entrepreneurship program begun in 2010 with 23 faculty members and two students from SIU successfully completing the 12-week curriculum offered in the spring.
Executive Director Kyle Harfst of the research park said since the program’s inception there have been 11 business start-ups, of which eight have remained in the area, all generating a $7 million investment base.
Those business start-ups have been in the fields of energy, mobile applications, vocational services, design and information technology.
One of those start-ups, RoverTown, began four years earlier when three SIU students came together with the idea of providing coupons for college students by way of a coupon card. The card itself evolved into a mobile application. The students entered an Arch competition in St. Louis, going against 700 other start-up firms for a $50,000 cash prize with a stipulation that winners would locate in St. Louis. There were 20 winners, including RoverTown.
Lindberg said she and Harfst are working now on similar opportunities like the Arch competition that would keep students, researchers and start-ups in Southern Illinois.
Another program, Student Innovation Incubator, offered through the park earlier this year, is designed exclusively for SIU students and is funded through United States Department of Agriculture and Delta Regional Authority with assistance from SIU.
There are five students who have utilized the incubator services in their goal to get patents, start businesses and sell their ideas.
Their fields are diverse, spanning from banding devices for lobsters, to interior heating and air algorithms, retail fashion marketing, public relations and a mobile application detailing entertainment offerings for particular locales.
In addition to the programs, the research park will be offering the fifth annual SIU Technology & Innovation Expo on Oct. 25. This year’s guest speaker for the all day event is SIU alumnus Lawrence Cruz, chief patent counsel at Conair Corp. For more information, contact Lindberg at 618-453-6754 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.