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George Shultz Innovation Fund

George Shultz Innovation Fund

About the George Shultz Innovation Fund

The George Shultz Innovation Fund is a multi-million-dollar fund that invests in promising startups from an ecosystem that includes the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, and  the Marine Biological Laboratory. The core mission of the Shultz Innovation Fund is to help researchers turn their innovations into ventures that advance cutting-edge technologies, generate significant financial returns, and create lasting impact for humankind.

This mission is accomplished in two ways.

  1. Investing in startups created by faculty, students, and staff in order to help them bridge the gap between basic research funding and commercial investment.
  2. Surrounding these startups with a community of support – including distinguished angel and venture capital investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs – to help move their projects forward.

The Shultz Innovation Fund is a venture-philanthropy fund, supported by alumni donations. One hundred percent of its returns are invested back into the Fund, ensuring that it remains an evergreen, permanent feature of the University of Chicago’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. To date, the Innovation Fund has invested $6 million in 58 startups.

The Process

Our investment process resembles that of a traditional venture capital fund, and is run twice a year (Fall and Spring quarters). After evaluating 30+ applications, we select 5 to advance to due diligence, a rigorous 10-week process spearheaded by our Innovation Fund Associates. We then make an investment decision for each venture based on the outcome of due diligence and the input of our Advisory Committee, and typically select 1-3 ventures for investment.

What finalists receive //

  • 10-weeks of rigorous, venture-capital-style due diligence. A multi-disciplinary team of Innovation Fund Associates spends 500+ hours analyzing your business from an investors perspective, helping prepare you to raise additional capital.
  • $100,000 to $250,000 of proof-of-concept investment (if selected). Our investments are directed to helping you achieve one or two key milestones that will create a value inflection point for your venture and bring key stakeholders (e.g. customers, funders, investors) to the table.

What to expect //

BEFORE
Successful applicants to the Shultz Innovation Fund share three characteristics:

  1. Committed team with dedicated technology and business founders
  2. Significant technical milestones achieved
  3. Value proposition of technology validated with end customers

DURING
Our diligence process is demanding. Successful candidates commit approximately 20 hrsper week during the 10-week cycle

  • Presentation Building and Coaching (15-20 hrs/week)
  • Meetings with Diligence Team (3-5 hrs/week)
  • Trainings and Programming (0-2 hrs/week)

AFTER
George Shultz Innovation Fund investees receive more than money. They will also receive:

  • A SAFE investment of $100,000 to $250,000
  • Year-round support from the Innovation Fund team, which includes introductions and coaching
  • Press opportunities

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