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TVSG receives ASU-Kauffman Foundation grant


June 10, 2009

Professor Eric Menkhus of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and the Technology Ventures Services Group (TVSG) at Arizona State University received a $50,000 Pathways to Entrepreneurship Grant to continue helping Arizona innovators cultivate and grow viable technology businesses.

The TVSG, a for-credit course for graduate students in law, business, engineering and other disciplines, will use the ASU grant to help pay for the services of local professionals who will mentor students for the 2009-2010 academic year. The TVSG is a partnership of the College of Law, the W.P. Carey School of Business, the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Barrett, The Honors College. It provides low-cost essential legal and business services to eligible technology start-up companies and entrepreneurs.

“Like many of our start-up clients, the TVSG needs funding to operate here in the early stages of our existence,” said Menkhus, the TVSG’s director. “The Pathways to Entrepreneurship Grant is important to us because it not only allows us to continue working with great professionals, but is also a symbol of ASU’s support of entrepreneurship education, in general, and the TVSG, in particular.

“Additionally, the affiliation of the grant with the Kauffman Foundation provides a link to one of, if not the, most prestigious organizations promoting entrepreneurship education,” he said. “We need money from outside groups like grantors and donors to continue to provide critical services to Arizona’s early-stage technology entrepreneurs, so the grant money will be put to good use.”

The TVSG is housed at SkySong, ASU’s center for innovation in Scottsdale, and is made up of two student groups. The Technology Ventures Legal Clinic is comprised of law students who work on business formation, employment issues, licensing and other agreements, limited patent work, and other intellectual property issues. Technology Ventures Consulting consists of mostly graduate students from outside the law school who offer market research and analysis, technology and supply chain assessments, financial model creation, implementation planning, leadership team analysis, and other business-planning services.

The more than two dozen students enrolled each year in the course are mentored by Phoenix attorneys Michael Hool, Jennifer Lefere and Jonathan Coury of the Hool Law Group, and by Tom Fulcher, founder of The Idea Gardener, a business development and marketing firm. Their expertise and passion for entrepreneurship and for working with students is a big plus for the group, said Menkhus, noting he hopes to use the new grant money to continue the effective utilization of the TVSG’s in-residence professionals.

“Another use of the grant funds will be to assist SkySong’s ongoing efforts to attract international technology firms to Arizona by providing services those firms need when establishing their first presence in the U.S.,” Menkhus said. “TVSG students can provide information about U.S. markets, competitors, business-entity formation, contracting, and many other important topics that companies new to the U.S. may encounter.”

The ASU Pathways to Entrepreneurship Grant is part of the university’s commitment to funding innovative approaches to entrepreneurship education. Across ASU, faculty and staff are teaching courses that provide students with opportunities to use knowledge of their disciplines to advance entrepreneurship and innovation. Through programs such as the TVSG, which also received a $40,000 entrepreneurship grant in 2008, students increase their influence on the community and confidence in their entrepreneurial and innovative skills.