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Santa Clara University Launches a New Venture Accelerator Program

Summer is the time when most students are taking on summer jobs or internships and most professors are taking a much-needed break. But for a select few, they will spend the next six months trying to launch or expand their businesses.

Santa Clara University (SCU) has just added its first cohort to the brand-new Bronco Venture Accelerator. The university has selected six teams and given each of them a $10,000 grant to help grow their business.

They will also get access to the university’s resources and its expansive alumni network.

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“The important part of the accelerator experience is about the network that you build, not just with your cohort, but also with the Santa Clara community that we connect you to; the advisors, the mentors that we bring in, the professors who come in and give lectures and do workshops,” said Morgan Slain, Director of the Bronco Venture Accelerator.

“That’s the great thing about a university-based accelerator is that you have an instant network of all these incredibly talented people who are passionate about their university ties and they want to help other Santa Clara entrepreneurs,” continued Slain.

All applicants to the Bronco Venture Accelerator must be a part of the SCU community; which means students, faculty, staff or alumni. The Accelerator received a wide range of those applicants.

“What’s impressed me so far is that the applications have shown a great mix of graduate students and undergraduate students…and then faculty, staff and alumni,” said Chris Norris, the Executive Director of SCU’s Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Everything that we were targeting in terms of including the community, we’re getting in applications.”

The first cohort was selected a few weeks ago. Slain says this accelerator is ideal for the participants because it’s less focused on book learning and more focused on hands on practical learning.

“[We ask] what does each venture need to make it successful? And then we apply the faculty and industry resources into that venture to help it be successful,” said Slain.

At the end a six-month period, the businesses will take part in a demo day where they will pitch a group of venture capitalists, investors and community members. In an ideal world, all six of the businesses will find an investor that will help them continue forward.

Slain says the university’s other institutions like the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics will be a great help in guiding the businesses in the right direction.

“The other thing that we’re doing is bringing some leadership content into the program, that is based on bringing forward what we think of as the Jesuit perspective of mindful action toward a better good,” said Slain.

“We think the university has a lot to bring to that conversation,” said Slain. “And we can do it in a really engaging way that maybe helps address some of the problems we see in companies that have scaled to such great heights around us and don’t always behave the way we think they probably should behave.”

Both Slain and Norris hope that this is just the first of many cohorts that grow within the Bronco Venture Accelerator. If all goes well, they will be selecting the teams for their next cohort sometime next year.

To find out more about the Bronco Venture Accelerator including how to apply, visit the website at https://www.scu.edu/cioccacenter/bronco-venture-accelerator/.

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