Update: The recording from this event can be found here. Use access code Bia_62022 to view. The slides from the event can be found here.
OMAHA, Nebraska —What if you could access the full might and expertise of the University of Nebraska to help your company with some of its biggest challenges? If you could connect with a scientist with decades of experience and education in your field, and work with them as your innovation partner? If you could present your problem to a classroom of students, and encourage them to pursue fresh or untried approaches, and provide you creative solutions? If you could utilize world-class laboratories and facilities to experiment, build, and bring your idea to life? If you could find R&D funding?
It would be a game-changer for both businesses and Nebraska, right?
That’s the idea behind the NU Connections program, a key University of Nebraska economic development initiative to help businesses across the state connect with the multitude of unique resources available on each campus. A webinar at noon on June 23 is scheduled to share exactly how businesses with Nebraska operations can tap into all that the University has to offer and leverage state funding programs to help pay for the collaborations. A separate webinar the day prior is scheduled for faculty, staff, and students.
Ryan Anderson, director of industry relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), UNL industry liaison for NU Connections, and one of the organizers of the event, shares that anyone in the business sector could benefit from participating. “The university has so much to offer, from research partners to scientific instrumentation, and vast field assets,” he says. “Tapping into these resources can help move your business further, faster. We can help you get connected to the expertise you need to overcome barriers, pursue new technology directions and support your company’s innovation and growth.”
What does that look like in action?
Anderson gives the example of just one of the Business Innovation Act programs administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development: The Academic R&D program. “The Nebraska Department of Economic Development competitively awards grants to companies to partially support applied research or new product development projects that involve university faculty and students or utilizes NU facilities.” Projects in their first phase can receive up to $100,000 in matching grant funding and up to $400,000 for projects closer to commercialization. “We can help you get started by finding the right faculty member to work with and walk you through the process from start to finish.”
Hawkins Construction worked with Anderson on securing an Academic R&D grant to support a collaboration with UNL Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty members Seunghee Kim and Jioing Hu on a clean technology for road construction. “It helped to have assistance navigating the University and NEDED processes,” said Chris Hawkins, President/CEO of Hawkins Construction. “The faculty and students were great to work with, and the project results are very promising.”
This program will be discussed during the webinar, which supports companies of all sizes collaborating with a Nebraska college or university, along with the other programs administered, which directly support small business research, development, and prototyping.
Deanna Marcelino, University of Nebraska at Omaha’s NU Connections industry liaison, shared another example of how businesses can tap into university expertise.
“We recently connected three micro-businesses in North Omaha to a class within our College of Information Science & Technology,” she shared. “The students completed research and provided these businesses with IT-based solutions and a tutorial for how to implement them.” The partnership benefitted both parties: the students received hands-on experience and practice, while the micro-businesses received IT support that might otherwise be costly and out-of-reach.
Anderson says that whether you’re from an established company with hundreds of employees, or a startup just getting off the ground, there are diverse and valuable University of Nebraska resources available to support your business, no matter where in the state you’re located.
“This is a great opportunity to learn about state funding programs available to augment a company’s R&D or product development budget, and support collaboration with University of Nebraska scientists and engineers who have deep expertise that some companies don’t have in-house. It’s also advantageous for faculty and students to work on commercial technology, and gain insight from their industry counterparts.”
And while the focus is on business innovation, and ultimately bottom line technology-based economic development in Nebraska, these collaborations can also lead to the involved students being hired by the sponsoring company. “With high-tech labor markets so tight, engaging undergraduate and graduate students through such projects can be an effective talent acquisition strategy.”
The June 23 webinar is open to all Nebraska professionals and is free to attend. Interested parties can register at https://bit.ly/nuconnections. Students, faculty, and staff can register for a companion webinar on June 22 webinar at https://bit.ly/biaoverview.