Rowan University Foundation announces new venture fund, allocates $5 million

The Rowan University Foundation, the philanthropic and fundraising arm of Rowan, announced the creation of a new venture capital fund that will invest in Rowan-generated technologies and research initiatives by faculty, students and alumni.

On March 11, the foundation committed $5 million to the fund, which is formally titled the Rowan Venture Fund. The investment can award as much as $1 million per year for up to five years.

Rowan President Dr. Ali Houshmand said he believes the fund will enable students and faculty with creative research ideas to turn those ideas into projects and products that can benefit the South Jersey area.

“We need to get engaged in applied type of research, the type of research that transfers or transitions into jobs and economic growth of this region,” Houshmand said.

The foundation created a Technology/New Venture Development Committee, which will work with R.J. Tallarida, the executive director of the foundation, to develop and oversee the venture fund. An advisory committee will also be appointed by the foundation.

The advisory committee will include business leaders, financiers, entrepreneurs and individuals with expertise in biotechnology, biomedical, engineering and venture capital. The two committees will work together to decide whether someone will be awarded funding for his or her project.

Dr. Shreekanth Mandayam, vice president of Research and executive director of the South Jersey Technology Park, said the intellectual property rights for products financed by the venture fund would be owned by Rowan, per existing university policy.

However, he said once the intellectual property is patented and protected, revenue from licensing fees would be split between the foundation and the students and faculty who made the product. How much of a cut each party receives will be determined at a case by case basis.

The venture fund is unique among public institutions in the area. Rutgers, NJIT, Temple and the University of Delaware, for example, do not have such funds.

“This is a very novel approach within this region,” said Dr. Kenneth Blank, senior vice president for Health Sciences. “We are proud to be at the forefront of being able to lead that. And again, the foresight of the foundation, in terms of establishing this kind of fund, that foresight is quite considerable.”

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