William C. Norris Institute

Innovation through Entrepreneurship


Investment Funds

william_norris_The Norris Fund for Technology Innovation

The William C. Norris Institute at the University of St. Thomas invests in early-stage companies through the Norris Fund for Innovation.

This non-profit, revolving investment program provides equity investments and convertible note loans of up to $75,000, with deferred payback terms and warrants. These funds are targeted to supplement “family and friends” investments where there has been significant bootstrapping to commercialize the concept and to validate the business strategy.

The James Roger Fox M.D. Fund for Healthcare Innovation

This fund was established in 2008 with a founding bequest of $1 million from Dr. Fox, who died December 18, 2007. Dr. Fox was a physician who broadcast health advice on radio and television from the 1940s to the 1970s. He authored Dr. Fox’s Family Health Guide in 1965, and he served as medical director for the Minneapolis Public Schools and for Control Data Corporation, where he formed a close relationship with William C. Norris. Dr. Fox was instrumental in Norris’ decision to merge the nonprofit William C. Norris Institute into the University of St. Thomas business school in 2001. The Healthcare Innovation fund in Dr. Fox’s name enables the Norris Institute to expand its ability to provide seed capital to innovative health care companies.

Screening Process for Investment Opportunities

Companies are invited to email a business plan to Bruce Nordin.

Several criteria are used to screen investment opportunities for more thorough due diligence review. In cases where specific technical expertise or additional business perspective would be helpful, the Institute will call on a network of volunteer consultants. Entrepreneurs may be invited to meet with selected members of the network during the review process. Graduate and undergraduate students in the Opus College of Business may also be involved in the review and due diligence process.

Companies in which the Norris Institute invests will be required to submit monthly financial reports and quarterly progress reports. In addition to capital, entrepreneurs and companies can benefit from other resources available at the University of St. Thomas. Typical exit timeline is three to five years. Returns on equity investments will be deposited for re-investment in additional companies. The long-term investment goal of the program is to preserve donated capital as much as possible while generating returns sufficient to enable growth of the investment funds.