From ideas to successful ventures

bsi entrepreneurs

Students at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels got a quick taste of the problem-solving skills entrepreneurs need during fall orientation. A session was devoted to students creating solutions from new ways of looking at common objects.

The UMSI Entrepreneurship Program employs a three-pronged approach of courses, projects and events to expose students to a broad range of professional experiences and help them develop entrepreneurial skills and innovative ideas that reflect their passion and give them the opportunity to make a positive impact in communities.

The program emphasizes entrepreneurship in a variety of settings, including business startups and for-profit ventures, as well as nonprofit groups and other organizations dedicated to achieving positive social impacts.

This fall semester, Ehrenberg Director of Entrepreneurship Nancy Benovich Gilby is co-teaching UMSI, College of Engineering and Ross Business School courses designed to give students hands-on experience and an understanding of various stages in building a startup or a business. 

In addition to co-teaching “Innovation in the Information Age” with UMSI Associate Professor Victor Rosenberg, Benovich Gilby is working with Elliot Soloway, professor in the College of Engineering and the schools of Education and Information.

MSI students enrolled for the first time in Soloway’s “Mobile App Development in Entrepreneurship” course. They acted as clients on undergraduate projects, which pushed programming and development students to consider user needs and develop viable solutions.

Benovich Gilby and David Brophy, director of Ross Business School’s Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity, are also instructing students on securing funding for entrepreneurial projects.

The Entrepreneurship Program’s extra-curricular activities provide students with insight on topics like women in technology and launching startups and connect them to entrepreneurial professionals via Treks, workshops and events.

Inspired by the Maker Movement, We Make Health Fest encouraged grassroots health design, taught visitors about new health technologies, and connected technical and design communities with patients, caregivers and researchers.

Next spring, the program will coordinate with Ross Business School student groups and Innovate Blue to send UMSI, engineering and business students to South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas to develop and pitch ideas in two competitions focusing on two stages of the entrepreneurial process.

The program also works closely with UMSI student groups, currently developing a design clinic with the Student Organizations for Computer-Human Interaction. The clinic provides an opportunity for students across campus working on entrepreneurial projects to get training and consultation from UMSI students on user-experience and social media design skills.

Many of the program’s projects serve the dual purpose of fostering innovation and building connections with organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs and innovators across the region.

Students who have developed ideas in class, on their own, or have presented at the recent New York Innovation Trek will have the opportunity to move their projects forward by working with organizations like TechArb, a student startup accelerator operated through the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship and Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.

The program is also working to connect students with Dr. Joyce Lee and John Kostick of We Make Health Fest to help build services around information visualization and glucose management prototypes Kostick developed to monitor diabetes.

And by strengthening relationships with UMSI student groups, the Center for Entrepreneurship, Menlo Innovations, Ann Arbor SPARK, A2Geeks and others, the program is seeking to embed even more experiential projects and opportunities in courses and extra-curricular activities.

Ultimately, the Entrepreneurship Program’s goal is to enable every student who attends UMSI to participate in a self-directed, passion-driven project during his or her time at the school. That experience could be initiating a high-tech startup, launching a nonprofit startup, working within an organization to effect major change, conducting novel research with other students or faculty, or any other opportunity to use innovation and entrepreneurship to make a broad social impact.

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