University supports entrepreneurship, startups

By Avirup Kundu, Contributing Writer

The University is ranked No. 10 internationally among schools for producing venture capital-backed entrepreneurs, according to PitchBook’s 2018-2019 report.

The report bases its rankings on factors such as the amount of female startup founders, students who have startup companies valued at over $1 billion and serial entrepreneurs the University has produced.

Miranda Holloway, media communications specialist for engineering, said entrepreneurship is a key part of life for many University students. She said the campus has a number of resources to support ideas of students, alumni and faculty.

The Technology Entrepreneurship Center provides students and faculty with the skills, resources and experience necessary to become successful innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders, she said, adding that entrepreneurship by undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members is encouraged by the University.

Stephanie Larson, associate director of innovation and entrepreneurship student programs, said there are multiple events for all kinds of entrepreneurs, from beginners to people looking for help with intellectual property rights for their ideas and products.

Social Fuse is one of its first entry-level events, designed for people who already have ideas and are looking for teammates, as well as those who just want to listen to ideas being pitched.

The TEC has also launched the Innovation, Leadership, Engineering and Entrepreneurship degree, specifically targeted toward undergraduate students in Engineering.

TEC also has a workshop in California every year, where it sends 25 students to meet with alumni who are working in or have founded startups.

Cozad, a yearly competition for entrepreneurs, allows students to form teams and compete against each other for funding for their ideas. Many of the participants then go on to form companies based on their ideas for Cozad.

While the competition is open to the general public, each participating team is required to have a minimum of 33 percent of their members come from the University.

Accelerating Women And underRepresented Entrepreneurs, a program funded through the National Science Foundation and partnered by Research Park, gives small grants to groups of female and underrepresented entrepreneurs.

“Cozad is the very beginning of the pipeline for entrepreneurs, and in the past few years, we’ve seen about 25 percent females and 75 percent males participate in that program,” Larson said.

She said she is hoping to increase the female participation in Cozad by at least 10 percent this year.

“I’d say that people can collaborate easily in such a supportive environment for entrepreneurship, which is why I think we had such a success,” Holloway said.

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