Looking for help commercializing your product. Try NASA.
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This story appears in the July 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you have an idea for a new product but need cutting-edge technology to help breathe life into your invention, California State Polytechnic University in Pomona may have the solution to your dilemma. The university has teamed up with NASA to create a business incubator that targets start-up or existing firms that have the ability to commercialize technology created in two NASA laboratories in California.

The incubator--called the NASA Commercialization Center--will help entrepreneurs commercialize technology at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena and the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base to give their products the ability to create and control a niche. The technology available at JPL includes semiconductors, optics, power generation, communications and robotics. Dryden specializes in flight-related technology.

Both scientists with products or ideas and the need for business assistance, and entrepreneurs with the capability to develop technologies are eligible to utilize the incubator. Companies don't need to be located in the facility to participate, nor is the program aimed solely at tech companies.

To qualify, contact the incubator for an initial evaluation (no charge) to determine your product's market potential and your company's capabilities. If your business is chosen, the cost for the services is determined on an individual basis but will be at a below-market rate.

For more information, call the center at (909)869-4477.


Baby Bell gives entrepreneurs a secondhand financial boost.

Nine chambers of commerce in the Southeastern United States have won $10,000 grants to create small-business development programs. The organizations won the grants through Atlanta-based BellSouth's second annual competition to recognize one chamber in each of the nine states it services.

Winning chambers were honored for programs that included creating Web sites for small firms in Mobile, Alabama; doing worldwide marketing for merchants in Cosby, Tennessee; and establishing a business resource center at a Logan County, Kentucky, library.

BellSouth also awarded smaller grants to three runner-up chambers in each state. For a complete list of winners and the programs they plan to offer, visit


University offers in-depth executive training to business owners nationwide.

Minority entrepreneurs can learn the financial, leadership and negotiation skills it takes to operate a business during a week-long program at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration in Charlottesville, August 8 through 13.

Ideally, participants will leave the program with a deeper understanding of the challenges facing minorities, tools for maneuvering around those obstacles, and contacts with others who face similar issues. The program is designed to be national in scope.

The Darden Minority Business Executive Program costs $4,600 per person to attend, with a discount for an additional attendee from the same business; the price includes instruction, housing and meals. Enrollment is limited to 40 people. Call (804)924-4847 for more information, or (804)924-3000 to register.

California, Michigan, Texas

If Y2K is digging too deep into your pockets, this loan program could be the answer.

Once you've done your Y2K assessment and discovered you need new equipment or software upgrades, what's next? Finding the money to make the changes. Comerica Bank has created a loan program to help small businesses in California, Michigan and Texas bring their systems into compliance.

The five-year loans of at least $10,000 will be tailored to each company. Entrepreneurs need not be Comerica customers to qualify but must have sufficient cash flow and collateral. For more information, call (408)556-5310.

Contact Source

NASA Commercialization Center,

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