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University affiliate NextCorps receives federal grant to help create software companies

April 16, 2021
Seen from behind, a man sits in a yellow chair and looks at his laptop in the NextCorps business incubation space at Sibley Square, complete with colorful mural and modern shared workspaces.NextCorps’ business incubation space is located in the Sibley Building in downtown Rochester. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

New internship opportunities will open up for students at the University and RIT.

The US Economic Development Administration is awarding NextCorps, an affiliate of the University of Rochester and the region’s only state- and federally designated business incubator, $743,000 to help individuals negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The money, from the EDA’s Scaling Pandemic Resilience through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge program, will help launch software companies that start taking in revenue within one year.

A 2019 study done by the Boston Consulting Group identified the software sector as a key pillar for long-term economic growth in the Rochester region.

“The Rochester ecosystem has shown an organic growth in the number of software startup companies over the past few years, with more than half of NextCorps’ incubation clients in the software sector,” says James Senall, president of NextCorps. “While the Boston Consulting Group recently identified software as a future growth sector for our region, we have not had a dedicated program for that sector. This initiative will meet that community demand and help accelerate the pace of new software startups.”

One way NextCorps plans to accelerate that pace is by creating a software cluster capable of promoting growth in the sector for many years to come.

The SPRINT Challenge award will also benefit students at the University of Rochester and RIT, as NextCorps plans to hire more than 20 students for internships from the two universities to work with the new software startup companies.

“This will not only give those students invaluable work experience, but will also serve as a powerful motivator by creating interesting job opportunities that can help keep them here in Rochester after they graduate,” says Senall.

The federal grant will be will be combined with $241,00 in matching and in-funds to create a nearly $1 million program.

The SPRINT Challenge was created last year to harness America’s entrepreneurial potential to address the economic, health, and safety risks caused by the coronavirus pandemic through entrepreneurship and innovation. A total of $29 million is being awarded to 44 organizations in the latest round of funding.

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