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Guest Blog Post: The Allied MindStorm Innovation Challenge

Guest blogger:  David Park is the Project Leader for Allied MindStorm.
What would you do with paper-thin plastic batteries or silver ink pens that conduct electricity?
The formula is well understood: Invention plus capital can equal high-value innovation. Yet most advances at research institutions never attract the venture support needed to make it beyond the campus.
The typical venture capital firm will tell you that their mission is to fund startups with solid business plans, impressive management teams, and products that are at least close to generating revenue. However, inventions at research universities are typically years away from reaching that stage.
That is why I help unleash these innovations with management and capital. No, I am not a venture capitalist. I wear many hats at Allied Minds, a private equity-funded innovation company that forms, funds, manages, and builds startups based on early-stage technology developed at renowned U.S. universities and national labs.
We get involved early when the technology is still in the lab with no business drivers and no business plans. We are entrepreneurs and hands-on operators, not money managers.
Each year, we see many new inventions from the 40 research institutions in our partner network. While many of these opportunities are technologies with obvious commercial uses, some of the most ambitious or intriguing research leaves us with a question mark. Therefore, we decided to create an open innovation website to invite the public to brainstorm new commercial applications around exciting university technologies. To make that happen, we needed a technology partner.
So, I went to my first Mass Innovation Night last September to look for talent. I was surprised by the very large turnout on a Wednesday night, charged by the energy of the event, and impressed with the innovations on display—including SCVNGR and LevelUp.
I networked with entrepreneurs, designers, developers, and marketers. I caught up with Dan from Level 50 Software and discussed our crowdsourcing strategy. That conversation led to several more conversations, and ultimately, we selected them from the six companies that we interviewed (Level 50’s local presence definitely helped).
Last week, our innovation platform, Allied MindStorm, opened to the general public. We have challenges for creative minds -- help identify the best applications for the boldest technologies. Aside from flexing their brain power, participants have a chance to win up to $25,000 and/or a consulting role from Allied Minds. Come check out www.alliedmindstorm.com and see where one conversation at Mass Innovation Nights can lead you!

David Park is the Project Leader for Allied MindStorm. He welcomes your feedback via [email protected].