School:University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut (UConn) is a public institution located in Mansfield, Connecticut founded in 1881. Standing as its own town with a student population of around 18,000 undergraduate students and 6,500 graduate students, UConn is a medium to large size university. Recently there has been a push towards entrepreneurship and innovation at UConn. This is being achieved with an increasing number of events and opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators to partake in.
At UConn, entrepreneurship is available as a minor provided as a joint effort through multiple schools within the university. There are numerous additional courses that revolve around entrepreneurship and promoting the ideas and values of a successful entrepreneur. These courses are split into three categories: business, engineering, and law. Soon, a new minor will be offered in engineering entrepreneurship. This will allow for the fusion of all these disciplines.
A different approach to learning about entrepreneurship at UConn would be through the variety of programs offered for aspiring entrepreneurs. One of these is the IDEA Grant program, where students can receive smaller amounts of funding for their entrepreneurial ventures without losing ownership of their start-up. Another available resource is the Innovation Quest Program. This is a student innovation competition where participants aim to win to earn funds and mentorship throughout the start of their venture. Another example would be the TIP program, in which students interested in interning can work with startup companies founded by UConn students to gain experience on the early beginnings of a company pushing to innovate the future of bioscience and other STEM areas.
In addition, a variety of extra-curricular activities revolve around entrepreneurship including multiple student organizations. The two most notable students run entrepreneurship organizations are The UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Society (UEIS) and The Student Entrepreneurial Organization (SEO). There is also Innovation House, a themed housing community that aims to bring like-minded individuals together and provide unique opportunities and connections for new students.
One series of opportunities that tend to bring entrepreneurs together across campus includes the entrepreneurship and innovation events that occur every semester. The two largest events include the Yale-UConn CBIT CORE Hackathon and TEDx UConn. The hackathon draws over a hundred students from places all around New England to collaborate at UConn and compete for an entire weekend while problem solving and collaborating.
When considering the faculty side of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation community at UConn, both the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium come to mind as the most prominent players.
The Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) is led by Faculty Director Timothy Folta and Managing Director Michelle Cote. CCEI aims to provide students with various opportunities such as the previously mentioned IDEA Grant and Innovation Quest programs.
The UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium is led by Co-Director Hadi Bozorgmanesh and Co-Director Timothy Folta. The consortium aims to collect and provide additional opportunities for students regarding entrepreneurship and innovation.
UNIVERSITY TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FUNCTIONS
UConn does not currently have a transfer office, but there are a few offices such as the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium as well as the UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Society that both serve a role in connecting and directing students.
UConn works with Nerac when a student requires professional business advice. The student presents in front of an experienced panel to receive feedback on their innovative idea. This is only directed at a small portion of already established innovators and is invite only.
UConn alumni also do their part giving back to the University. The TIP program allows current UConn students to get hands on experience on innovation and entrepreneurship by interning over the summer session with companies that were started by former UConn students.
Alumni also come in periodically to give either in person or online lectures on his or her story. We hope these information sessions will be helpful in creating a generational effect among students as well as an inspiration for passionate students.
Innovation Quest (IQ) is a challenge to students at any level or major to explore innovation and entrepreneurship. Successful projects that come out of the Innovation Quest (IQ) have gone on to become industry supported companies. The amount of growth UConn has and continue to have further connects students to invaluable resources.
REGIONAL AND LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
One of the largest resources within the region of UConn is Connecticut Innovations. CT Innovations works to bring investors and entrepreneurs together along with providing additional funding. They relate to the UConn community and provide a great resource for students with an established entrepreneurial venture.
There is currently a 3.5 Billion dollar "innovation initiative" project in play right now at UConn. This is a campus wide overhaul of the University's STEM program to offer more opportunity to students. There is a tech park being built on campus that will house start-up companies and think tanks lead by companies GE and Pratt & Whitney. An engineering research lab is also under construction.
One of the most recently finished buildings is the new Next Generation STEM building which houses 727 students in a state of the art dormitory, complete with the first ever maker space on campus, the Learning Community Innovation Zone (LCIZ). This space will allow students to pursue hands on learning that will help strengthen their academic experience from as early on as their first year in college.
The University of Connecticut has a rapidly developing entrepreneurial and innovative culture. The University has recently been allocating funding towards entrepreneurial programs such as the IDEA Grant and investments into new STEAM infrastructure such as the Next Generation Connecticut Residence hall and many more to come. There is clearly a push to create a more innovative and entrepreneurial culture. As more talented people and invaluable resources are put into place, more passionate students will be drawn to the university to take advantage of the current entrepreneurial opportunities.
For more information please reference for The University of Connecticut Landscape Canvas linked below. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KtmTtaGms-cBztrTehNwPh2GwPnK3DvB04TyETB6Csg/edit#gid=235079455
University of Connecticut Overview
University Innovation Fellows