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The University of Southern California was among a group of universities awarded a $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to invest in and incubate startups.

The new program is called NSF Innovation Corps Hub: West Region. USC, UCLA and UC Riverside are among the participants, along with Caltech, the University of Colorado Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, University of New Mexico and the University of Utah. The plan is to add more university affiliates as the program develops.

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College kids have hatched some of the biggest ideas throughout tech history, sometimes before they even finish school. But students who aren't as lucky as Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates usually have to backburner big ideas to focus on earning a degree and getting a job. Only then can they hope that their ideas will someday see the light of day.

California Crescent Fund, a new student-run venture capital firm that exclusively funds student startups based in Southern California, wants to offer young founders the option to turn their ideas into reality while they're still in school.

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On this week's episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, meet Scott Lenet, the co-founder and president of Touchdown Ventures — a firm that helps corporations run professional venture capital programs. Before creating Touchdown, Lenet was a managing partner at DFJ Frontier and has two decades of experience as a venture capitalist.

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