Invention has been at the heart of VentureWell from the beginning. We were established in 1995 with support from The Lemelson Foundation, founded by prolific independent U.S. inventor Jerome Lemelson. Jerry Lemelson believed invention was essential to American economic success and vitality and envisioned a program that would foster the next generation of collegiate inventors and help them bring their ideas to impact.
In 1995 Lemelson convened a group of higher education faculty and administrators at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts to discuss how to make his vision a reality. In the meeting, Lemelson described an organization that would support educators in implementing a hands-on, experiential approach to learning while at the same time helping students develop new products and boost them toward commercialization.
VentureWell (originally called the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, or NCIIA) was created out of this meeting. VentureWell began offering grants to faculty to start programs in technology entrepreneurship, particularly ones that focused on the development of E-Teams—groups of students, faculty and advisors working to commercialize a novel idea. VentureWell then funded the best E-Teams coming out of those courses and programs, helping them bring their inventions to market.
VentureWell has grown rapidly to include a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from across the U.S., engaging thousands of undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs each year. We are proud to be the leader in funding, training, coaching and early investment that brings student innovations to the world.