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Techstars and University of Southern California Collaborate to Spur Innovation, Entrepreneurial Growth

● USC and Techstars Digital Economy Accelerator Program will invest in early stage startups advancing digital transformation across biological, physical and computer sciences

● Techstars Startup Community Catalyst will offer entrepreneurial training, events and programming for idea stage and early-stage startups

Techstars, the most active pre-seed investor in the world, and the University of Southern California (USC) are launching the USC and Techstars Digital Economy Program to cultivate an entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports startups and inspires entrepreneurship within the vibrant USC community.

“As the world’s largest pre-seed investor, we’re innately aware of the importance of creating the right environment for entrepreneurs to flourish,” said Techstars Chief Accelerator Investment Officer Shirley Romig. “With USC’s fierce commitment to supporting its innovation pipeline, this partnership will enable us to build a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports unstoppable founders while they build world-changing businesses.”

The program represents a collective effort to cultivate, engage, and enhance the innovation ecosystem at USC. Through the program with Techstars, the university’s network of students, alumni, and faculty will access opportunities such as entrepreneurial-focused events, training, and programming that create a pathway for early-stage and aspiring founders to progress on their entrepreneurial journey.

“USC is one of the largest institutions for innovation in the Los Angeles economy. Our mission is to foster an ecosystem that thrives on innovative thinking, groundbreaking translational research, and multidisciplinary collaborations that drive meaningful impact,” said Ishwar K. Puri, USC Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation. “This new partnership with Techstars is certain to inspire growth in the Southern California innovation ecosystem and fortify the fast-growing tech corridor that stretches from Santa Barbara through LA to San Diego. We look forward to building an entrepreneurship accelerator that produces even more student, faculty, and alumni startups.”

Techstars Startup Community Catalyst will focus on developing and energizing the innovation ecosystem within the USC community, and will feature:

  • Startup Weekend, a three-day event designed to ignite ideas and build startup communities
  • Ecosystem Development Lab, a training program for community leaders to strengthen the foundation of their entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • University Catalyst, a 10-week, pre-accelerator program for idea and early stage startups

These three programs will precede and create a pipeline of exceptional entrepreneurs for the USC and Techstars Digital Economy Accelerator, a 13-week intensive program designed for early stage startups advancing digitization across bioscience, biomedicine, physical science, engineering, information, and computer sciences.

“The partnership between USC and Techstars is an incredible opportunity for us to jumpstart new ventures that open doors for innovations from healthcare to technology and can change lives for the better,” said Steven O. Moldin, USC Interim Associate Vice President of Research Strategy and Innovation. “We are thrilled that the USC community will be able to leverage the vast connections and resources that Techstars offers.”

Nearly all programming events will be in-person. Some events will be held on USC’s Silicon Beach Campus, an area in southern Los Angeles County that includes USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute in Marina del Rey, and USC Viterbi’s Institute for Creative Technologies in Playa del Rey. Other events will take place at the USC Stevens Center for Innovation.

“Our partnership with Techstars is a strategic step towards realizing an even greater impact on the Southern California innovation ecosystem,” said Erin Overstreet, executive director of the USC Stevens Center for Innovation. “It catalyzes product-oriented research and entrepreneurial ventures among our faculty and students and fulfills a critical need for the USC community. We're excited about the unique opportunities this collaboration presents.”

Startup Weekend will take place on April 5-7, 2024. Anyone looking for an immersive foray into the world of startups may register for the event which will offer participants access to mentors, investors, co-founders and partners from the local community to help them get started on their entrepreneurial journey. Those interested in registering may do so here.

Ecosystem Development Lab will convene USC community leaders and stakeholders for two days in April 2024 to learn key methodologies to grow the University and Southern California’s unique startup ecosystem. Those interested in participating can find more information here.

University Catalyst pre-accelerator program applications will open in April 2024 and be accepted through July 2024. The 10-week program will launch in the fall and provide early-stage founders access to valuable startup education, mentorship, community building, and Techstars’ network of entrepreneurs, mentors, and corporate partners. University Catalyst will be delivered in a hybrid capacity with both virtual and in-person components. Those interested are encouraged to visit here.

USC and Techstars Digital Economy Accelerator program applications will launch in September 2024. Twelve early-stage startups will be selected for the inaugural program, all of which will have an affiliation to USC, including having a founder, employee, family member, or investor who is connected to the university. Founders who are selected will receive hands-on mentorship, curated entrepreneurial content and programming, up to $120,000 in funding, and access to Techstars’ global network of mentors, investors, alumni, and corporate partners. Those interested in applying when applications open in September 2024 should get in touch here.

Techstars is hiring for a Managing Director to lead the program, acting as a coach, connector, and curator for the participating founders. Those interested in applying for this position can do so here.

About Techstars

Techstars is the most active pre-seed investor in the world having invested through its accelerators in more than 4,000 companies. Founded in 2006, Techstars believes that entrepreneurs create a better future for everyone and great ideas can come from anywhere. Now we are on a mission to invest in an unprecedented number of startups per year enabling more capital to flow to more entrepreneurs around the world. We do this by operating accelerator programs and venture capital funds, as well as by connecting startups, investors, corporations, and cities to help build thriving startup communities.

About the USC Office of Research and Innovation

With over $10M in grants from the Office of Research & Innovation, USC has bolstered technology transfer and commercialization by funding groundbreaking use-inspired research and early-stage entrepreneurship that translates intellectual property for social and economic good.

About the USC Stevens Center for Innovation

As the technology transfer office for the University of Southern California, the Stevens Center for Innovation serves as a university-wide resource that works to move and maximize the discoveries of USC researchers from the lab to the marketplace. The Stevens Center manages a broad portfolio of university-owned intellectual property stemming from more than $1 billion in annual research revenues and licenses them to existing businesses or startups so they can be developed into products and services that improve human lives, transform industries, and fuel economic growth. Through collaborative commercialization of technologies, the Stevens Center plays an important role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and supports the development of innovations that positively impact the world's greatest challenges.


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