Mississippi Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC): Virtual-QUAD
/kwäd/: A measure of energy 10e15 Btu
V-Quad’s mission is to build an innovative, virtual incubator network to support Mississippi entrepreneurs and innovators launching businesses focused on energy- and agriculture-related technologies.
The Mississippi Virtual-QUAD
This program will help new technology companies seeking to commercialize energy- and agriculture-related technologies find the technical assistance and financial networks that have a specific focus in these areas. States like Mississippi have strong agricultural, energy research and industrial activities that have the potential to spawn innovative technologies with the right entrepreneurial ecosystem in place.
V-Quad’s goal is to form a public-private partnership that connects Mississippi’s research universities, industry, government and non-profits into a cohesive, tech-based entrepreneurial network.
The nexus of energy and agriculture is more apparent as regenerative agriculture and the circular economy are becoming increasingly important to achieve a new level of economic development while meeting environment needs.
The precept of V-Quad is inclusive innovation, and rural areas and a historically Black university are part of the Mississippi V-Quad.
V-Quad Operations and Partners
The V-Quad is a first-of-its-kind, sector-specific initiative that will link four research universities, non-profit organizations and state and federal government assets in Mississippi that come together to support current entrepreneurs and attract new innovators working at the nexus of energy and agriculture.
- All team members and partners have significant experience with supporting technology-based entrepreneurial activities
- V-Quad will encourage entrepreneurship among minorities and rural areas which is lacking across the entire country.
- Mississippi was awarded an EPIC Prize from the U.S. Department of Energy which will shine a national and international spotlight on the state’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem.
V-QUAD Strategic Plan
- V-Quad will be the catalyst for mobilizing the combined resources of several public and private entities into the future.
- Entrepreneurial ecosystem will support emerging technology companies and university spinouts through mentoring, market analysis, prototyping networking and funding.
- V-Quad’s strength is crosspollinating and leveraging resources across institutions in a manner not done previously.
Key program features
- Competitively select teams to receive V-Quad Phase I Venture Development Grants
- “Pitch in the V-Quad” competition with Phase II Venture Development grants
- Global energy transitions are creating pathways for development of new innovations to enter the relatively restrictive markets.
- V-Quad will aggressively draw upon the unique strengths and assets of the state’s research universities in energy and agriculture.
V-Quad will seek to mitigate five types of risks
- Launch the Mississippi V-Quad
- Outreach to public and private sector partners and early stage companies
- Launch V-Quad topical webinar series with invited speakers
- Solicit V-Quad entries from interested teams
- Award Stage I Venture Development Grants to selected teams (up to $25,000 available)
- Conduct Entrepreneurs Virtual Bootcamp
- Provide mentoring, market analysis, venture development support
- First “Pitch in theV-Quad” Competition with Stage II Venture Development Grants (up to $25,000 available)
- Teams may be eligible for the Mississippi Seed Fund – Proof of Concept awards
Risk Mitigation Strategy: Leverage existing resources and tools
- Centers of excellence and research parks at universities
- Market intelligence tools
- Robust venture development and commercialization models in place
- Mississippi Seed Fund – Proof of Concept Fund managed by Innovate Mississippi
- Connect with existing entrepreneurial mentor networks at universities and Innovate Mississippi
- Connect with existing Angel Investor Networks
- Startups will have access to more than 250 years of collective mentoring experience through partnering and supporting organizations
Diverse V-QUAD CORE TEAM
Past Successes and Experience:
- 800-plus companies accelerated
- 2,000 jobs created by these companies
- $179 million in seed and venture capital
- Launched three angel investor networks
- 16 Startup Weekends
- 20 annual innovation conferences
- Coached the winner of 2014 national grand prize winner of Cleantech Open
- NSF I-Corps sites, SCORE, 1 Million Cups
- Launched Renewable Energy Venture Startup (REVSup) Academy
- Experience with patent law/patent holder
- $17 million in low-interest energy efficiency loans
The Mississippi V-Quad will monitor and track the following activities to measure its success. MDA’s Energy & Natural Resources Division and The Entrepreneurship Center will be the clearinghouse for collecting and disseminating data.
- Number of companies with emerging technologies
- Number of Mississippi Seed Fund Awards
- Connections to SBIR-STTR
- Ecosystem density
- Number of supporting partners
- Physical spaces for emerging companies to work
- Access to maker spaces, university research, mentor networks and funding networks
- Cumulative hours of services provided to startups
V-Quad Team Co-Leader: Sumesh Arora, Ph.D.
V-Quad Team Co-Leader: Joe Donovan
V-Quad Manager: Whitney Jackson
V-Quad Support: Nerissa Tripp
General inquiries: 601.359.3449