A $500,000 federal grant will help the University of Delaware expand a business development program.
Alejandra Castillo, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, visited UD’s STAR Campus on Friday to announce the grant alongside Sen. Tom Carper.
UD is one of 25 colleges and universities across the country sharing $2.5 million in funding from the University Center Economic Development Program Competition.
“Colleges and universities have many resources and talent that are often unique to their region,” Castillo said. “Our 2021 EDA University Center grantees will play a key part in developing and executing on regional economic development visions. These grants could not come at a more important time, as we have an historic opportunity to invest in economic development and build back better in communities all across the country.”
UD will use the money to expand its Spin In program statewide.
Spin In partners entrepreneurs developing early stage innovations with interdisciplinary teams of UD students who have the skills to further develop the innovations and find ways to commercialize them.
“Teams are provided unique opportunities to solve real-world business problems within a real-world entrepreneurial start-up environment, while directly resulting in the development of new products, businesses with scalable opportunities, jobs, and a highly skilled workforce to support regional industries and initiatives,” said Amalea Rassias, who runs the program.
The program has resulted in the creation of new companies, fueling economic development in the state.
One success story, Rassias said, is Avkin, which sells wearable simulators for training healthcare workers to do specific medical procedures.
An interdisciplinary team of students from engineering, nursing, theatre, business and marketing partnered with a UD nursing professor to work on product development solutions and market strategies for a tracheostomy simulator.
Five simulation training devices were developed in partnership with UD’s mechanical engineering students, and the resulting company now has eight wearable simulators on the market and offers consulting and training.
Carper noted that the STAR Campus is turning the shuttered Chrysler site into an economic engine for the state once again.
“Today’s announcement is great news for economic development in our region, building upon the success of the STAR Campus,” Carper said. “EDA’s investment in Delaware – from right here at the STAR Campus, to the Innovation Space in Wilmington, to the Automotive Center for Excellence at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown— is paying dividends to Delaware’s economy.”