Thursday, October 4, 2007

Northwestern Creates Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science has established the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to take engineering beyond the applications of the sciences to the creation of businesses that capitalize on innovations. The center will provide students and faculty with the skills to become successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

“Engineering is the application of the pure sciences,” says Julio Ottino, dean of the McCormick School. “Science often is incomplete, and engineering thinking has to fill the gaps. Innovation and entrepreneurship are techniques to deliver solutions to those who have a need for them.”

McCormick is retooling many of its existing programs with a greater focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. “Design think” -- a concept already widely embraced at McCormick -- will be greatly enhanced when students learn how they can grow existing businesses (intrapreneurship) or create new businesses (entrepreneurship).

One of the first initiatives coordinated by the center is a new academic partnership, NUvention, that will expand Northwestern's tradition of interdisciplinary study by developing new experimental courses that allow students to become entrepreneurs within a class setting. “Often would-be entrepreneurs lack the knowledge of business processes. This class will allow students to gain real experience without risks.”

Student involvement in entrepreneurship at Northwestern is high, as evidenced by a new student organization focused on entrepreneurship, InNUvation, and two popular events held last spring. “Applied Research Day,” supported by CEI, drew more than 40 students who shared their entrepreneurial research with fellow students, faculty, venture capitalists and industry. And NU Venture Challenge, a campus-wide business idea competition sponsored by McCormick alumnus Robert Shaw, attracted nearly 200 applicants.

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