Tulane Alumni Investing Millions to Create Innovation Institute

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NEW ORLEANS — Tulane University has announced that the Tulane Innovation Institute will launch operations from its downtown headquarters later this year. The technology and startup accelerator, which will debut at 1315 Gravier Street before moving to the renovated Charity Hospital building, is funded by several alumni investors.

The Priddy Family Foundation secured funds to launch the Robert L. Priddy Innovation Lab, which will provide proof-of-concept and early-stage startup gap funding for aspiring entrepreneurs and promising technologies. The lab also will offer a mentorship network and administrative, budgetary, marketing and branding support. A 1969 Tulane graduate, Robert Priddy forged a career in aviation and private equity and remains an active private investor.

Another gift from David and Marion Mussafer will create an innovation fund to support programming, mentoring, marketing, and startup and proof-of-concept funding. Investor David Mussafer, also a Tulane alum, serves as chairman and managing partner of private equity firm Advent International Corp. Other key investors include David Barksdale, Stephanie Barksdale, Carol Bernick, Walter Isaacson, Cathy Isaacson, Jeffrey Silverman and Amy Silverman.

Tulane said the institute will also produce educational and experiential programming “in order to energize and cultivate an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset and culture on campus that helps foster startup enterprises and technologies with commercial potential.” The school also hopes the institute provide an incentive for more graduates to start their careers in New Orleans. The Priddy Innovation Lab is expected to attract more than $100 million in capital to the region.

“Throughout my career I’ve loved watching small ventures grow into thriving enterprises,” said Robert Priddy in a press release. “In the Innovation Institute, I see a promising idea with the power to capitalize on Tulane’s existing strengths and grow into something huge for the city and the Gulf Coast. I’m captivated by this project’s possibilities and the opportunity to play a role in developing new concepts that can produce jobs, improve the local economy and change the world for the better. I’d recommend this project to anyone looking to invest in the future not only of Tulane but the entire region.”

The institute’s partners inside Tulane will include the Taylor Center, the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Scot Ackerman MakerSpace, the Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property and the Tulane National Primate Research Center. Outside partners will include the Idea Village, the New Orleans BioInnovation Center and many regional economic development groups.

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