The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, in partnership with Engine-4 launched an incubator program for college students centered on the commercialization of NASA’s patented technology.
Applications for “Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition” opened Feb. 18 and will close on Mar. 16, 2020, the nonprofit announced.
The initiative is spearheaded by the Trust’s parallel18 team under the pre18 brand, in collaboration with NASA.
Parallel18 is a performance-driven startup program, that for the past four years has provided entrepreneurs from all over the world access to high-quality business training, funding, and networks to help them launch and grow.
“Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition is an incubator program that incorporates participants’ access to the patented technologies’ inventors while addressing pressing industry needs in Puerto Rico, in sectors such as manufacturing, clean technologies, and agriculture,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.
The program has the capacity to work with 100 upperclassmen university students, mostly in STEM concentrations. The learning sessions will be focused on hardware and product development. They will also carry out customer discovery efforts, design a viable commercialization plan, and create a working prototype.
“Via Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition, students will be invited to apply their technical knowledge in creative ways. Our goal is to spark a change of mindset from traditional business or career paths to explore innovative opportunities,” said Sebastian Vidal, executive director of parallel18.
Over the course of 10 weeks, the students will meet biweekly on Saturdays at Engine-4 in Bayamón, for workshops, coaching and group work. There, they will receive training and mentorship from industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs in areas such as customer discovery, rapid prototyping, tech commercialization, fundraising alternatives, and how to pitch a project.
“Engine-4 CWS / IoT LAB will host the incubation program in our facilities and provide high-speed Internet infrastructure (100 Gigabit) that will allow participants to have stable connections and transfer data securely to their clouds,” said Luis A. Torres, founder of Engine-4.
“We will also make available our technical equipment -such as 3D Printers, digital microscopes, industrial digital meters, welding equipment for digital equipment, tools, and technical benches- for the convenience of participants,” he said.
“They will also benefit from access to personnel from different companies through Engine-4 staff to help as mentors. Technology companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Intel, HP and Aruba Network, among others, will be a foothold in this program as part of the mentors,” Torres said.
The incubation period closes with a pitch competition.
To apply, the students need to complete a form where they present a short blurb regarding their plan to commercialize a patent originally intended for use in space and why they are passionate about it. Applications will be evaluated based on each patent’s capacity.