There is much to learn about organizing, funding and launching a new company from the experience of others. The best way to access the know-how and wisdom of others is through networking. Ideally, you should aim to find a mentor (or a group of mentors) that will be able to offer qualified advice and help open the necessary doors. Use this list of Northwestern resources and area networks that offer guidance.
INVO and Northwestern mentorship resources
- Commercialization Clinics are a consulting service offered to all members of Northwestern who have questions about how to commercialize an idea. Each Commercialization Clinic typically focuses on a specific sector (e.g., Medical Devices, Sensor-Based Medical Devices, IT/Software). Participants have the opportunity to receive feedback from a panel of experts, including lawyers, investors, and experts on FDA regulations, commercialization, and licensing. Attendees are invited to listen to other faculty presentations if a confidentiality agreement is signed.
- Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program brings experienced entrepreneurs to the University to advise and assist student and faculty as they launch startups or explore commercialization of research. This is a great resource for developing business concepts, making contact with the market, connecting to investors, and sorting through founder and team issues. The EIR program is a key part of our entrepreneurial knowledge base, and a link to the broader commercial ecosystem.
- Northwestern is a participating institution of the Global Entrepreneur In Residence Program which aims to help immigrant entrepreneurs to start businesses in Chicago. Indicate your interest in this program at the ThinkChicago website.
- INVOForward is a Northwestern mentorship program to accelerate biomedical commercialization, such as medical devices, therapeutics, and Health IT, on both Evanston and Chicago campuses. In this 4-week program, teams test and identify their market fit and assess the level of impact of their business proposition.
- INVOReach is an initiative that develops resources that improve the diversity of inventorship and entrepreneurship at Northwestern University. INVOReach seeks to increase innovation diversity in a variety of ways, for example through gender representation, level of previous entrepreneurial experience, and areas of innovation. Initial efforts will focus on increasing women inventors and entrepreneurs and offering programs to help newly formed teams to test and explore business propositions.
- The Garage offers the opportunity for students to match you with venture coaches, expert advisors, and alumni mentors. The Garage Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) are accomplished entrepreneurs and executives, often with ties to Northwestern University. EIRs share many of the same privileges as our Residents, like office space and 24/7 access, in exchange for acting as informal mentors to students and offering weekly office hours at The Garage.
Regional and national resources
- Chicago Innovation Mentors (CIM), situated in MATTER, is a multi-institution initiative that connects innovating faculty with experienced entrepreneurs, executives and domain experts. The co-founders of CIM include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois at Chicago, in collaboration with the iBIO® Institute. Through CIM, you can find a seasoned entrepreneur to be your mentor and guide you through the business and legal aspects of starting a company.
- iBIO Institute’s PROPEL Center helps guide the development of formation-stage and early-stage life sciences companies by providing entrepreneurs with access to specialized resources and expertise to prepare them for early-stage funding. Industry, academia, service professionals, entrepreneurs and government agencies connect to create and support a vibrant entrepreneurial community in Illinois and throughout the Midwest through PROPEL programs.
- Women in Bio is an organization of professionals committed to promoting careers, leadership and entrepreneurship for women in the life sciences.