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Innovation Through Entrepreneurship

William C. Norris Institute

Stimulating Innovation and Supporting Visionary Local Companies

The William C. Norris Institute helps launch forward-thinking Minnesota companies and supports their growth. Our seed capital fund provides startup equity and assistance to entrepreneurs who submit original, well-planned business strategies that address important, unmet needs.

The institute also provides a real-life learning platform for St. Thomas business students by including them in the process of reviewing business opportunities, making investments and assisting portfolio companies.

The innovative companies in which we invest are typically in the early stages of commercializing interesting and inventive proprietary products or services.

This non-profit, revolving investment program provides equity investments and/or convertible notes of up to $75,000 with possible follow-on investment. These funds are targeted to supplement “family and friends” investments where there has been significant work done to commercialize the concept and validate the business strategy.

The institute continues the legacy of William C. Norris, the founder of Control Data Corporation – one of the first major computer companies in the United States.


Bruce W. Nordin

Executive Fellow & Director
Phone Number
(651) 962-4092
Since 2001 the institute has invested in 47 new ventures, of which 23 were founded by St. Thomas students and alumni
Invested more than $4 million in seed capital, leading to over $58 million in additional capital from third party investors
Currently the fund has a projected total exit value of equity in portfolio companies of $5.5 million

How to Apply

Companies interested in applying for investment from the William C. Norris Institute should email a business plan to Bruce W. Nordin at bruce.nordin@stthomas.edu.

Return on equity invested will be deposited for re-investment into new ventures. The long-term goal of the fund is to preserve donated capital and maximize returns that ensure its longevity.

About William C. Norris (1911-2006)

William C. Norris was the founder and chairman emeritus of Control Data Corporation—one of the first major computer companies in the United States. He founded the company in 1957 and retired as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1986. From 1988 through 2000 he chaired the non-profit William C. Norris Institute, which he merged with the University of St. Thomas in 2001.

During his 29 years as CEO of Control Data, Norris led many collaborative initiatives involving government, universities, and business and industry. Norris also helped organize and lead the Northwest Growth Fund, Minnesota Seed Capital Fund, Minnesota Cooperation Office, Minnesota Wellspring, and the Greater Minnesota Corporation (later Minnesota Technology, Inc.). These initiatives supported entrepreneurship and sought to improve Minnesota’s economy by assisting small companies in creating jobs.