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Overview – Developing the Culture 8

Prairie A&M University (PVAMU) is a historically black university located in Prairie View, Texas and is a member of the Texas A&M University System. PVAMU enrolls about 6,324 undergraduate students and 1,758 graduate students who come from all 50 U.S. states and several countries throughout the world. About 56% of the students are female, and 44% are male.

Dr. Ruth Simmons is the eight President of Prairie View A&M University, the second oldest public institution of higher education in Texas. Under Dr. Ruth Simmons’s leadership, PVAMU continues to fulfil its land-grant mission of achieving excellence in teaching, research and service.

In 2011 PVAMU began a 3 to 5-year drive to improve innovation and research outputs in the university. There is now also an increasing recognition throughout the university and the community. The five buckets contained in the NACIE sponsored university commitment letter provides a blueprint to building successful entrepreneurship, innovation, and commercializing programs and culture.

An innate entrepreneurial culture among PVAMU students has also been a major catalyst for innovation programs. The university’s strong engineering, science, technology, and nursing school have also been helpful.

Even so, PVAMU believes that an injection of “seed funding” access to USG grants will encourage faculty to their research rate, and commercialization effort.

Below is an enumeration of Prairie View A&M University programs and initiatives that support the five buckets in the NACIE sponsored university commitment letter.

Student Entrepreneurship

Student In Free Enterprise - SIFE: the Free Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. has partnered with PVAMU students, since 1976, in several activities that promote free enterprise. The SIFE Team’s programs inform and educate on the importance and benefits of the free enterprise system. These programs include the P-4 Investment Club, and sponsorships include the Personal Finance and Fiscal Fitness, Business Ethics, Student Entrepreneur and Business Expo, Entertainment Business Career Fair, Music Business Seminars, and the Changing the World Talent Showcase.

Framework for Opportunity Convergence and the Utilization of Sustainable Solutions (FOCUSS) Idea Competition provides students a unique opportunity to share and cultivate creative solutions for sponsoring corporations. All current Prairie View A&M students are eligible to participate. Johnson Controls is a major corporate sponsor of the competition.

PV Wire- The collaborative innovation student organization. The goal of PV Wire is to push students beyond the edge of the education continuum and provide significant solutions to global problems. 

PV Consulting Association - This is a student ran consulting firm. The goal of PV Consulting Association is to give students an in-school internship opportunity. PV Consulting teaches students design thinking and consulting methodologies to prepare them to be student consultants. Students gain the opportunity to utilize their learnings from school and apply them to real-world experience by consulting non-profit organizations and startups around the country. 

Faculty Entrepreneurship

There does not yet appear to be a formal arrangement to engage PVAMU faculty in entrepreneurship or commercialization of research initiatives. However, a number of PVAMU engagements appear to suggest an effort to engage both faculty and students in research and commercialization initiatives.  These include:

The Center for Radiation Engineering and Science for Space Exploration (CRESSE), a NASA University Research Center (URC) at PVAMU, uses its core intellectual, academic and physical infrastructure to thoroughly investigate the scientific and engineering challenges of space radiation. A better understanding and mitigation of radiation will help realize America’s goal to someday safely return scientists, engineers and explorers to space destinations including Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs), Mars, and beyond.

  • The prime objective of CRESSE is to merge new materials and technology into innovative radiation shielding systems.
  • These shielding systems will keep critical electronic and scientific instruments and astronauts safe from harmful radiation, during future robotic and human missions into deep space.


Research Focus: Through September 2013, CRESSE research will focus on reliability issues during future NASA lunar and Martian missions. Specific areas of focus will include the dependability of space flight instrumentation and the health and safety of astronauts.

The 2010 RAMP Conference—Research Association of Minority Professors— hosted by PVAMU sought to identify the University’s role in enhancing faculty research in education, engineering, health and technology. The conference suggested several incentives to improve faculty research. These include:

  • Granting faculty additional release time from teaching
  • Typical faculty teaching load is 12 semester;
  • Grant may provide 25% released time; and
  • University will grant a limited number of faculty an additional 25% release time for one semester or $3,000 to $6,000 to support faculty development.

University Technology Transfer Functions

PVAMU technology transfer functions are handled through its parent institution: the Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC). In fiscal year 2010 OTC achieved [[|the following]] milestone:

  • Licensing revenue generated by the Office of Technology Commercialization exceeded $8.5 million;
  • The A&M System filed 65 new U.S. and foreign patent applications;
  • 30 U.S. patents were issued based on A&M System technologies;
  • A&M System entered into 46 new license agreements for the development of technologies; and
  • On average, OTC staff processed 4 new disclosures per week.

University-Industry Collaboration

Since 2004, the Prairie A&M University Small Business Development Center (PVAMU SBDC) has provided free consulting and assistance to businesses in Waller and Grimes counties. Services are extended to both start-ups and businesses seeking to scale-up. PVAMU SBDC professional consultants have extensive experience working with businesses in a wide variety of industries and bring practical knowledge and business expertise, from marketing to financial strategy.

On a Corporate level, PVAMU is collaborating more than ever with various industry leaders. The career services and students organizations such as The National society of Black Engineers and Society of Women Engineers are building sustainable corporate relationships that expose our students to more opportunities. New partnerships include Tesla, Intel, Dell, McAfee, Goldman Sachs, BP etc 

Regional and Local Economic Development

Communi-Versity Economic Development Initiative is a first-of-its kind economic development strategy for the City of Prairie View, which is home to Prairie View A&M University. Communi-Versity Advisory Council is comprised of leaders from the Prairie View [[|community]], PVAMU, and the private sector.

The Advisory Council works collaboratively with local city officials and economic development professionals to create jobs and attract additional business and investments that benefit both the university and the local community.

Deep-Dive Questions

  • Is innovation an integral part of PVAMU’s institutional culture?
  • Why is it important? And how does it influence entrepreneurship and tech transfer?
  • How do you envision your program in the future?
  • What is your vision for each of the case study’s bucket?
  • How does your institution leverage (or intend to leverage) geographic endowment?
  • Are your innovation, entrepreneurship, and tech transfer programs integrated?
  • Why, or why not?
  • Are there any unique successes (and or challenges) you may wish to highlight?


The Center for Radiation Engineering and Science for Space Exploration (CRESSE) at the Prairie View A&M University is an example of the promise that the University’s engineering pedigree holds in its quest to enhance student and faculty innovation and entrepreneurship. PVAMU’s affiliation with the Texas A&M University System should also provide resources as well as give credibility to innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives.

Comments by Dr. Rick Baldwin have been instructive in better understanding Prairie View A&M University’s quest for expanded innovative entrepreneurship, research, and technology transfer [[|programs]]. It has framed the impact of the NACIE commitment letter by way of PVAMU’s strategic plans and institutional culture.

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship thanks Howard University’s assistance with this case study, and looks forward to a continued close and collaborative relationship in building America’s innovation infrastructure.

8  Comments by: Dr. Rick Baldwin, Advisor, SIEF Program




RAMP Conference:


Small Business Development Center:

Communi-Versity Project:

Source: "The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University: Higher Education, Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Focus", Department of Commerce, October 2013.

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