School:University of Delaware

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Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship 

Student innovation and entrepreneurship are encouraged in select fields, namely business and to a certain extent in engineering. There is a huge variety of course offerings that have a strong entrepreneurial emphasis. In all of these courses, students work with problem owners to not only validate that the problem exists but to create new solutions that have unique value. Through this process, students create new products or business ideas, which they further develop over the course of the semester by forming relationships with these same problem owners mentioned before. While this is promising for business students, engineering students are primarily interested in innovation and recognize it as a skill required of them. All students have a basic awareness that there are a multitude of resources on campus for them but if they are interested in pursuing entrepreneurship there is always room for improvement. Faculty members and stakeholders are extremely supportive of implementing an innovation and entrepreneurship initiative on campus. The Delaware Innovation Fellows, administered by the University of Delaware's Horn Entrepreneurship, offers a four-year enrichment experience for those who want to be more immersed in entrepreneurship and leadership. This is just one example of many. Horn Entrepreneurship is University of Delaware's entrepreneurship program full of programs in and out of the classroom, as well as a Venture Development Center where deserving students have 24/7 access to work on their ventures.

The ability to communicate ideas with others is crucial for developing entrepreneurs. Horn's Startup Village program connects specialized professionals to student entrepreneurs in the form of one on one meetings. Horn Entrepreneurship offers a variety of programming in and outside of the classroom for student entrepreneurs. Those in the major practice their skills every day through the venture support program VentureOn and hear from renowned entrepreneurs every Friday through Free Lunch Friday. Horn works as a meritocracy - that means that the students who work the hardest are awarded the most promising resources. Examples of these programs are Hen Hatch and the Summer Founders pre-accelerator. Hen Hatch is open to all students, faculty, and alumni that have business concepts and want to compete for real cash prizes totaling $100,000. The Summer Founders program is a 12-week pre-accelerator designed for students with early-stage startups to work on their ventures and receive a stipend, mentorship and education sessions. Speaking of sessions, the Sigfried Youth Leadership Program (SYLP) invites UD students to a semi-annual conference to engage with motivational speakers, explore what it means to be a success, begin defining life-goals, and start paving paths forward toward bright futures.

At the University of Delaware, our goal is to interlink and connect innovation that is growing in each of the colleges at the University.  In order to do this effectively, we have identified a few different goals.
  1. The need to centralize the resources available across all colleges
  2. Create a streamlined system for anyone that is interested in innovation/entrepreneurship
  3. Communicate the Universities innovation/entrepreneurship resources effectively
  4. Identify how we can “light a spark” in someone to have them see innovation/entrepreneurship in a new way
  5. Challenge students to step outside of their comfort zones to form relationships with those they otherwise wouldn't have
  6. Empower students to realize and know their own skills so they can build off of them
  7. Facilitating the connection of students interested in similar problems/solutions with different skill sets to form teams

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

The Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) plays a significant role in assisting faculty members with innovation. Faculty members are allowed to take a day every week to work on their own ideas, which could potentially lead to product innovation, a startup or a licensing opportunity. OEIP also provides assistance with training related to SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) grant application process. OEIP is working on making their online interface easier for faculty members to navigate.

Faculty members are excited and passionate about innovation but do need assistance when it comes to exploring the commercial viability of an idea or a product. Besides OEIP, the University of Delaware Morris Library offers access to the latest data related to industry research, marketing research, and small business and entrepreneurship. This resource is useful to evaluate the viability of an idea.

Faculty members are also encouraged to present their ideas and prototypes during the “Entrepreneurship and Risk: Meeting the Challenges” course (listed as MSEG 425). The course is attended by a group of engineering and business majors who develop a business plan for the faculty members to pursue it further.

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function 

 The Technology Transfer Center (TTC) within the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) is responsible for the protection, management, and commercialization of the University of Delaware's intellectual property assets. The TTC also provides advice to UD faculty, staff and graduate students regarding the disclosure of innovations, IP protection in the form of patents, copyrights, trademarks, as well as contracts and other research-related agreements. As inventors become entrepreneurs, the TTC, in cooperation with the Delaware Small Business Development Center (SBDC), assists with the growth of new businesses by providing consulting and training in areas such as business strategy and planning, funding strategy, team development, and management skill development.

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration

The Delaware Technology Park offers space for new startups and established companies. STAR campus is home to the universities rehabilitation centers and health science laboratories. With the completion of a new building adjacent to STAR, startups and small companies will be able to lease office space on campus and also provide opportunities for students.  Leading Edge Venture, First State Innovation, Vital Venture Capital, and Yet2ventures are financial venture firms that students can contact for investments. A good mentor network can also be found by either talking to a Horn Advisory Board member or a Lerner Executive Mentor. The university also offers several courses that promote growing a business, including ENTR352 (Business Launchpad: Turning Ideas into Successful Companies), and several capstone courses that promote the development of teamwork and innovative thinking through designing an industry level product by the end of the semester, including BMEG450 (Biomedical Engineering Design).

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts  

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a resource for new businesses and startups. Along with consulting, they can help with procuring space to set up their business, in the Delaware technology park. The Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) helps university employees with patent filing and commercializing viable ideas. Undergraduate students go through the Venture Development Center (VDC) for assistance with the above, but, if their ventures are ready they can use the resources above.

The Biden Institute, established at the University of Delaware's School of Public Policy and Administration, is a world-class intellectual center and destination for scholars, activists, and policymakers. Students refer to the research and policy center which works with the sharpest minds and the most powerful voices to address the nation's toughest problems. The Biden Challenge is just one program in the institute that has students come up with techniques to revitalize the middle class in a wide range of policy areas, including education, innovation and modernizing infrastructure.

Design Process Practicum(PLSC 250) is a class where students get hands-on experience on designing and constructing an exhibit in the Philidelphia Flower show. Working with local designers and community interest, students develop problem-based solutions to human interactions pertaining to different environments.

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