KTH Royal Institute of Technology is one of the 12 universities in Europe to become partners with the non-profit, U.S.-based FOUNDER.org.
The partnership offers graduating entrepreneurs from KTH a chance to compete for USD 100,000 and they can also qualify for FOUNDER.org University, a 12-month company-building program taught by successful innovators and entrepreneurs.
Student teams are also eligible to apply for funding through FOUNDER.org Capital, a venture capital fund focused on student companies.
FOUNDER.org was started by Michael Baum two years ago. His entrepreneurial projects include six start-ups, five acquisitions and the recent IPO of big data software company Splunk.
Baum says KTH's commitment to the student start-up support system, comprised of KTH Innovation, Student Inc. and STING, was a major reason the university was invited to partner with FOUNDER.org.
"I've already learned from Lisa and her team that they have a pretty rigorous system", he says. "A student who walks in the door with an idea is taken through a first gate, a second gate, a third gate; and at each one of those gates, they provide even more resources to those teams."
Baum says he was also impressed with the way KTH draws on the school's alumni network to help promising start-ups.
"I haven't seen that at any other school, and we're working with a lot of great schools," he says. KTH's greatest strengths in supporting start-ups are the "support the school gets from the government, the program KTH Innovation that the school put together, and the rigour that they are taking to it," he says.
Lisa Ericsson, head of the department KTH Innovation, says FOUNDER.org offers KTH graduates - including PhD students - "a unique opportunity to fast-track their company towards an international market".
"It's a fact that our graduates like to compete," she says. "They have been successful in many national business plan competitions, and to be able to compete with the best teams from some of the top European and U.S. universities will raise the stakes even higher."
Baum says that KTH was recommended as a potential partner by Jeff Burton, the director of University of California at Berkeley's SkyDeck accelerator program. Baum says Burton put him in touch with Lisa Ericsson.
Ericsson says that the university's proven record for producing great start-ups - by alumni, researchers and students - might have also played a role in FOUNDER.org's decision to select KTH.
It also helps that the two partners see eye-to-eye on the best approach for supporting and creating "start-ups that chase big ideas", she says. "We focus on practical experiencing, not only on the actual learning like so many other university programs."
Ericsson says that "the partnership with FOUNDER.org strengthens the international network for KTH Innovation, Student Inc. and the STING incubator, which comprise one of the leading start-up support systems for university students in Europe."
"KTH produces a lot of very excellent students and research, but our home market is very small," she says. "To be able to succeed, Swedish entrepreneurs have to reach out fast to bigger markets."
The 22 European and American partner universities of FOUNDER.org include MIT, Harvard Business School, University of Cambridge, Stanford University and the École Polytechnique.
In addition, the organisation has a dedicated fund (FOUNDER.org Capital) for start-ups, as well as an extensive referral network of venture capital and angel investors.