Effort Underway to Replicate Silicon Valley Near Harvard University

Last Friday, inside Harvard University’s Maxwell Dworkin lecture hall, Patrick S. Chung, W. Hugo Van Vuuren, and Harry Weller introduced the Experiment Fund, which will represent “seed money” along with structural and networking support to exceptional student entrepreneurs in the Cambridge-Boston area. Among those eligible for funding will be students from Harvard, MIT, and Boston University.

The fund is also being wielded as a promising cork to a genuinely unflattering brain-drain: Cambridge-centered entrepreneurs tend to leave town for the advantages that California’s Silicon Valley offers. Two of Harvard’s highest high flyers, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, after all, famously dropped out of the school to develop their own tech companies.

The idea behind the fund is to provide budding scholar-entrepreneurs with the tools they need to propel their ideas forward without needing to leave the school or geographical area altogether. With the fund, approximately four to six startups would be eligible for early capital in sums ranging from $250,000 to $500,000.

The Harvard Crimson quoted from an email sent by Harry Weller in which he explained that the fund was “not an incubator or grant-giving organization,” but a resource for investment that can help campus scholar-entrepreneurs “grow with seed capital, consistent guidance, and unparalleled access to experts.”

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