Summary:

A tough mission for The Experiment Fund: Help the next Facebook or Microsoft put down roots in Boston/Cambridge instead of out West.

In a bid to keep the next Mark Zuckerberg closer to Harvard when he or she launches her startup, The Experiment Fund is partnering with Harvard University. The goal of the $10 million fund, co-founded by Harvard alums Patrick Chung of New Enterprise Associates and Hugo Van Vuuren, with help from Accel and Polaris Ventures, is to help students start exploring their startups without leaving school, according to the Boston Globe. 

If Boston wants to attract and, more to the point, keep young startups local, it’s important for more of the academic institutions to explore innovative mentorship and support programs, says Michael Skok, partner with North Bridge Venture Partners, a Waltham, Mass. based VC firm.

There are lots of ad hoc relationships between area schools and VC firms. Skok himself teaches occasionally at Harvard’s iLab for example, but formal VC-university partnerships can be controversial, as the Globe points out. Conflicts of interest can result. Harvard was offered a stake in the Experiment Fund but declined.

There are a few other programs to help undergraduates stay in school till they’re ready to launch. Upstart, a startup launched last year by Google vet David Girouard, to help college undergraduates stay in school by helping them find mentors and funding for their startups after graduation.

The end game in Boston/Cambridge is to try to make sure the next Facebook will happen in Boston/Cambridge, not Silicon Valley.

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