Kara Swisher

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Making Sure the Next Zuckerberg or Gates Stays Put at Harvard

Earlier today, Harvard University and New Enterprise Associates announced the Experiment Fund, aimed at making sure that future Mark Zuckerbergs and Bill Gates can stay on campus and innovate without having to head West.

The irony of the pair of legendary entrepreneurs dropping out — decades apart — of the even more legendary university to start two of tech most significant companies, Facebook and Microsoft.

No longer, apparently.

The early-stage incubator, which will award funding to four to six start-ups in amounts from $250,000 to $500,000. It will focus on seed ventures in the Cambridge, Mass. area around Harvard, which includes many other schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Experiment Fund came from an idea born Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which involved NEA. Today, SEAS Dean Cherry Murray hosted an event that unveiled the initiative.

But, while faculty members will advise for the fund, Harvard has no financial stake.

In an interview NEA’s Patrick Chung said the intent was to enable talented students to “build a company here in Boston rather than have to go elsewhere.”

NEA will have full-time staffers working on the fund, investing in a wide range of companies. It has already backed a health app company, as well as a live Internet television offering.

“There has been an envy of the left coast, certainly,” said Chung. “Now, these talented engineers don’t have to leave when they reach the boundaries of the university where the ideas are formed.”

Added Chung: “They can walk right out of class and into a place that can make those start-ups real.”

In other words, let’s hope the third time’s a charm.

Here’s the map of exactly where the Experiment Fund is and official press release:

XFund press release


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— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post