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Jul 17, 2014 06:04 AM EDT

CMU Invests $800,000 in 16 Alumni Startups

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Carnegie Mellon University's Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund, supervised by the school's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, has granted $800,000 to 16 startup companies.

The fund provides financing and support to early stage businesses established by CMU alumni who graduated within the past five years. Since its inception in June 2012, the program has so far funded a total of $1.85 million to about 37 startups.

Each OFEF recipient is awarded approximately $50,000 along with personalized mentoring from CMU faculty and alumni. Peter Stern, co-founder of Datek Online, offers advisory support for the fund and serves as a mentor to one of the OFEF award recipients.

"The Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund is one of the programs that makes Carnegie Mellon a destination of choice for students, faculty and staff who are serious about entrepreneurship," said Dave Mawhinney, codirector of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in a statement. "It provides newly founded companies with critical resources at the right time in their startup development, enabling them to grow to the next level."

The university officials said that current recipients are launching products and services that will benefit humanity in aspects like affordable and sustainable housing, nutritional value in food products, community safety, retail inventory efficiency among others.

About 11 of the awardees are based in the Pittsburgh area. Some of them are:

BandPass provides information to bands regarding upcoming shows and details of venues to book shows.

Bistrobot employs robotics technology to create fresh food in a timely manner.

Digital Dream Labs teaches children the fundamentals of computer sciences and how to build programs through puzzles.

Greenovation designs, builds and develops affordable and sustainable housing.

Innovesca offers food's nutritional benefits in detail.

The recipients based outside Pittsburgh are: Impaqd, New York; Midnight Madness Distilling, Traumbauersville, Pa.; popAD, Chicago; Solvvy Inc., Palo Alto, Calif.; and Trance, Sunnyvale, Calif.

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