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Darden Annouces Next Cohort of Ventures for Its i.Lab Incubator

uvadardenVentures focused on developing an educational technology to improve spoken English instruction to children in China, products to support healing among orthopedic patients and tools to help small businesses automate processes were among those selected to take part in the 2105 i.Lab Incubator program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the school announced this week. Operated by Darden’s Batten Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the i.Lab and incubator will host 25 new ventures in the coming year along with eight ventures from the class of 2014.

“This year we saw a particularly experienced group of applicants,” Philippe Sommer, director of Darden’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, said in a statement. “It will be an incredible asset to have entrepreneurs in the incubator with deep expertise in fields such as engineering, biomedicine and education.”

The incubator program is open to applicants from all 11 schools at UVA as well as from the Charlottesville community. Of the 24 ventures chosen this year, 10 were founded by Darden students, 10 were founded by UVA students or faculty members and four were founded by individuals unaffiliated with the university. The 25th and final spot will be awarded tonight at Crowdfunded Pitch Night, part of Tom Tom Founders Festival, a weeklong celebration of innovation, music, art and food named for UVA founder Thomas Jefferson. Vying for the final spot in the program, entrepreneurs and innovators will pitch their business ideas to audience members, who will choose the winner.

In all, the 2015 cohort of ventures are drawn from a wide range of industry sectors, including healthcare, technology, solar power, education and fashion, and represent an increasingly vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Charlottesville, Darden notes. According to a recent Brookings Institution, the annual rate of first-round venture capital financing in Charlottesville is nearly two and a half times higher than the national average.

Participants in the i.Lab Incubator program will develop and refine their business ideas as part of a 10-week summer accelerator. They also each will receive a $5,000 grant, office space, mentoring support, networking opportunities with local investors, and access to accounting and technological expertise. A clinic with faculty and students from the UVA School of Law will also provide guidance on the legal aspects of new-venture creation.

Learn more about Darden’s 2015 i.Lab Incubator program ventures.