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The Wharton Innovation Fund

November 15, 2011, Volume 58, No. 12

The University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School announced the establishment of the Wharton Innovation Fund, which seeks to promote the inventiveness and creativity of the academic community at the University in the design and development of new technologies or services which show promise for making a substantial impact on business or society as a whole. Founder Alberto Vitale, WG’59, described the Fund as, “a catalyst to stimulate innovation at the School and to surface the brainpower of its students.”

The Fund provides resources for students, faculty and staff to take projects that may begin in the classroom into the world-at-large. It supports student initiatives that show creativity and have a large potential impact. While the Fund gives preference to student-led projects, proposals that may involve faculty, students and staff will be considered as well, particularly those that leverage the School’s inventions and thought leadership in various fields of business. Approximately $125,000 in grants is available each year. Inventions or ventures that emerge from student-led projects remain the intellectual property of the student-inventors. In instances of inventions or ventures that leverage the University’s intellectual property, any economic value will be shared among the inventors, the School and the University.

Administered by the University through the Wharton School’s Innovation Group, projects that meet the Fund’s criteria are considered for support upon submission. The Fund’s advisory board, consisting of Wharton faculty, students, senior staff and alumni set specific criteria for supported projects.

“Innovation is one of the pillars of the Wharton School. The Wharton Innovation Fund reflects the School’s dedication to nurturing the best ideas and providing them a structure in which to grow,” said Wharton Dean Thomas S. Robertson. “We are very grateful to Alberto Vitale for his visionary generosity, which allows us to draw upon the remarkable intellectual resources of our students and the Wharton community in general. The Innovation initiative is headed by Karl Ulrich, who with Christian Terwiesch, wrote a best-selling book on innovation tournaments.”

“I am delighted that Alberto Vitale is supporting the School through the Wharton Innovation Fund,” said Dr. Ulrich, who is also Wharton’s Vice Dean of Innovation. “This fund will enable our work to have an even greater impact in so many arenas.”

The application process for the Wharton Innovation Fund and criteria for selection are described on their website http://beacon.wharton.upenn.edu/innovation. Email submissions to: innovation@wharton.upenn.edu

Almanac - November 15, 2011, Volume 58, No. 12