Earlier this week, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business announced it will welcome a new and diverse cohort of ventures to the 2015 i.Lab Incubator program, a university-wide initiative that supports early-stage businesses from U.Va. and the greater Charlottesville community. The i.Lab and the incubator are operated by Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The 24 ventures in the 2015 class include 10 founded by Darden students, 10 founded by U.Va. students or faculty members, and four founded by individuals unaffiliated with the University.
“This year we saw a particularly experienced group of applicants,” said Philippe Sommer, director of Darden’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. “It will be an incredible asset to have entrepreneurs in the incubator with deep expertise in fields such as engineering, biomedicine and education.”
The i.Lab Incubator program includes a 10-week summer accelerator, during which participants develop and refine their business ideas and participate in the community of fellow entrepreneurs. Ventures receive a $5,000 grant, office space, mentoring support, networking opportunities with local investors, and access to accounting and technological expertise. The program also includes a clinic with faculty and students from the U.Va. School of Law, who offer guidance on the legal aspects of new-venture creation.
Participants in the i.Lab Incubator can also tap into the experience of a cadre of entrepreneurs in residence, who provide one-on-one coaching and offer sessions on various aspects of the entrepreneurial process.
Eight ventures from the 2014 class will remain with the program for the coming year — the largest number of returning ventures in the program’s history. “These young companies have made great strides, figuring out their business models and how to manage risk,” continued Sommer. “We are all impressed by their desire to persevere and to continue exploring the market for their offerings.”