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Highland Capital revives its summer entrepreneurship program for college students

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 3, 2011 12:52 PM

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Highland Capital Partners SVP Michael Gaiss tells me that after a one-year hiatus, the venture capital firm is bringing back its Summer@Highland program for student entrepreneurs. The program will take place both in Highland's Lexington office, and in rented space in San Francisco. The goal is to have four to six teams in each location.

"We definitely think about this as an entrepreneurship program, not a seed program," Gaiss says. "That means we're really looking for teams that are three, six, nine or even twelve months away from raising a seed round."

Highland is specifically looking for tech-focused teams, which the firm describes as "SaaS, internet/digital media, infrastructure, energy efficiency, robotics, advanced materials & semiconductors."

Of the start-ups that participated in the three previous Summer@Highland programs, Gaiss says that Highland has funded two (the custom jewelry site Gemvara and video analytics specialist Affine Systems), and three others have raised money from investors other than Highland. (Fifteen teams in total have participated in prior editions of Summer@Highland.)

Each team receives a $15,000 stipend, free office space, plus access to Highland partners and the entrepreneurs in their network. Highland doesn't take equity in the companies that participate, and there's not even a requirement to give the firm first crack at funding. At least one member of each team must be a current student, or have graduated no earlier than December 2010. The application deadline is April 7th.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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