The leadership circle at Rowan University has learned that while entrepreneurial spirit can be found across campus, most students are unaware of the resources available to nourish the entrepreneurial mindset. The University has been supportive of innovation and entrepreneurship; this may be seen by the recent launch of the Entrepreneurship Across the Campus initiative and investments in the William Rohrer College of Business and Henry Rowan College of Engineering. This is exciting for everyone because alongside the interdisciplinary collaboration it will encourage, it will provide students from all backgrounds the tools to develop a creative mindset and initiative that is needed in creating a startup or a similar venture. Rowan has also partnered with Hatch House Ventures, a startup incubator that provides students with resources such as consulting, mentorship, and space to work.
Rowan has thankfully attracted many new faculty members over the years who place a great importance on entrepreneurship and innovation. Just recently, Dr. Sue Lehrman joined the College of Business as the new dean. Dean Lehrman has influenced the school to invest in entrepreneurship-generating programs, including Hatch House ventures, led by President Steve Boerner. Boerner brings with him years of experience in the world of startups. His program helps educate students about entrepreneurship, runs business model and plan competitions, and provides incubation and mentorships for all students on campus. Rowan is moving toward a more entrepreneurship-oriented focus by implementing hands-on learning in innovation through the new Experimental Learning Lab.
Rowan has delved further into supporting entrepreneurship with the Rowan Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship located in the Rohrer College of Business. The RCIE provides students with resources and opportunities to get connected with mentors and seed funding for their entrepreneurial ideas. The RCIE hosts 70+ events each semester, such as Design Thinking, Prototyping and Innovation Express workshops. These workshops and activities fuel Rowan's entrepreneurial mindset and raise innovation exponentially.
Rowan University provides an Office of Technology Commercialization. This office centers around student and faculty research in engineering, pharmaceuticals, medical technologies, and life sciences. At Rowan, research is one of the centers of innovation. The Office of Technology Commercialization connects this research to unmet marketable needs in industry. It is responsible for creating a collaboration between labs at Rowan University and industries in the marketplace.
Rowan University is continuously forming direct relationships with industries in the South Jersey/Philadelphia region but also nationwide. Through an innovative curriculum with the incorporation of “Engineering Clinics”, students of all engineering majors come together to tackle real-time industry research or professor work. Junior and Senior engineers at Rowan can choose what research project to work on as their Clinic course each semester. Some of these courses are sponsored by government companies or industry in which students have the equivalency of working under a company for course credit. These clinic range from designing Mars mining equipment for NASA to implementing medical equipment to providing relief efforts for third-world-countries after natural disaster. Some students even start their own projects to make their own Clinic course with the help of University funding. Industry and research projects go even beyond the classroom at Rowan, however. The addition of our South Jersey Tech Park creates a research facility for a variety of projects, ranging from drone research to a virtual reality center. On top of that, a lot of STEM professors at Rowan conduct independent research projects, in which case they take on a team of interested students for the opportunity to be a part of their research.
The Rowan Innovation Venture Fund, co-founded by Howard Lubert, is a University based $5 million private-equity fund. This was established in 2014 and provides early stage funding to students, faculty, alumni, and companies that have developed and tested products. This Fund heavily contributes to a growing initiative in encouraging entrepreneurial and innovative campus growth. Howard Lubert is also the Area President of the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic. Through Keiretsu, Rowan students can get funded for projects. The New Jersey Entrepreneurship State Fund is also available to Rowan students as it is awarded to a NJ student on a yearly basis through our State Department.
Annually, Rowan hosts the Idea Challenge in partnership with the Rowan Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Idea Challenge is designed to connect, educate and help students realize their entrepreneurial potential. The RCIE chooses local industry professionals as judges to qualify which of the team product pitches has the most potential. Once a decision is reached, the winning team is awarded seed funding for their product or service. This event is hosted in the fall to segway entrepreneurial students into the Venture Challenge in the Spring, which offers further financial support for start-up companies.
IDEAS TO BRING I&E TO CAMPUS
To increase collaboration between the different colleges.
- Create a Student Government Association chartered club that brings together students from different clubs to communicate and discuss collaborative efforts. June 2018
- Host competitions that require individuals to team with students who have different skills in diverse fields. February 2017
- Implement an interdisciplinary course that encourages students to work together. September 2019
- Host events that incorporate speakers who appeal to students in all diverse fields. June 2017
- Implement a program that connects students to partners who have the skills they lack. June 2017
- Pass a bylaw in the SGA constitution that requires SGA chartered clubs to not only perform community service hours, but, to also collaborate with a number of clubs every year. June 2017
To encourage students to think creatively.
- Make students aware of the Hatch House incubator on campus. This is a space where students are free to collaborate, think and relax with other students. February 2017
- Bring a Ted Talk to campus as a means of inspiring and motivating students. September 2018
- Educate faculty about how to foster innovation in the classroom as opposed to limiting it. September 2020
- Implement a required course that teaches students the difference between design thinking and lean startups and how to utilize them in the real world. September 2021
- Host events that foster innovation. This can be a competition asking students to create a more efficient bike. The winner can receive money or just bragging rights! February 2018
- Host our own very short mock UIF program where we lead students in learning about design thinking. We will work with them to identify campus problems and to solve those problems. May 2017
To educate students about what it means to be an entrepreneur.
- Host events in which CEO’s come to speak about their entrepreneurial experiences. March 2017
- Host an information session that brings together campus innovators and teaches students about what it means to be a CEO. March 2017
- Host an event in which students are put onto diverse teams and must create a mock startup. February 2017
- Work together with the CEO club to foster entrepreneurship in fields other than business, especially STEM. January 2017
- Require students of all majors to take the Entrepreneurship & Innovation class offered to business students on campus. September 2019
- Create a video series interviewing entrepreneurs and market it to students on campus. The series will discuss what it means to be a CEO and how to do it. March 2017
To create awareness about Rowan's entrepreneurial resources.
- Work with Rowan’s American Marketing Association to market Hatch House Ventures. March 2017
- Speak to the marketing department about using Rowan’s entrepreneurship resources as the project for their marketing plan classes. For this class, dozens of students will work together to produce an extensive marketing plan for the organization or project. April 2017
- Work with all club leaders to send press releases to their members about resources our school offers. We can also come to speak at their meetings to educate students about the resources. March 2017
- Create a website that compiles a list of resources that Rowan has. This will be similar to what the UIF Rowan Wiki page may look like but will be for Rowan students. It will be able to direct them to where they are looking to go. September 2020
- Host an orientation-like event for freshmen students that educates them about the resources we have. September 2019