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Northeastern launches new Center for Entrepreneurship Education

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College of Business Administration acting dean Harry Lane, and professors Daniel McCarthy and Daniel Gregory meet to discuss the details of the new Center for Entrepreneurship Education. Photo by Kristie Gillooly.

North­eastern is launching a new center that unites pro­grams and ini­tia­tives across dis­ci­plines to train stu­dents and alumni to become the next gen­er­a­tion of entrepreneurs.

The North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Center for Entre­pre­neur­ship Edu­ca­tion — made pos­sible thanks to a $5 mil­lion invest­ment by uni­ver­sity trustee Alan S. McKim, MBA’88, the founder and chairman of Clean Har­bors, Inc. — cre­ates a pipeline that teaches entre­pre­neur­ship and busi­ness skills; helps stu­dents and alumni develop new ven­tures; and brings together promising, viable start-​​ups with a well-​​connected net­work of angel investors and ven­ture capitalists.

“The center will be the entre­pre­neur­ship edu­ca­tion engine within the uni­ver­sity,” said Harry Lane, acting dean of the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion. “It’s a resource for the entire university.”

Marc Meyer, who directs the colleges’s High Tech MBA pro­gram, is leading the devel­op­ment of the new center along with fellow business-​​school fac­ulty mem­bers Daniel Gre­gory and Daniel J. McCarthy.

“There are no short­cuts in starting a busi­ness — it takes a process,” said Meyer, the Robert Shillman Pro­fessor of Entre­prenuer­ship and a Matthews Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor. “That’s the focus of this new center.”

The center’s work starts in the class­room with dis­tinct pro­grams for under­grad­u­ates, grad­uate stu­dents and alums. Under­grad­uate stu­dents across the uni­ver­sity have access to entre­pre­neur­ship courses, co-​​op posi­tions at com­pa­nies including start-​​ups run by North­eastern alumni, and the Entre­pre­neur­ship Club. The club, which offers a variety of pro­grams for stu­dent entre­pre­neurs, was recently ranked sixth world­wide, and the under­grad­uate entre­pre­neur­ship pro­gram at North­eastern as a whole was ranked ninth in the nation by the Princeton Review in 2011.

Grad­uate stu­dents can ben­efit from the Lab to Ven­tures pro­gram, which helps North­eastern researchers trans­late cutting-​​edge work in engi­neering, med­ical devices and phar­ma­ceu­tical sci­ences into suc­cessful busi­nesses. For alumni, the center will offer Startup Boot­camps to help them develop busi­ness plans and net­work to the local invest­ment community.

All ven­tures — from under­grad­u­ates, grad­u­ates and alumni — feed into IDEA, Northeastern’s Ven­ture Accel­er­ator. IDEA pro­vides men­tor­ship, resources and gap funding to new busi­nesses and works as a proving ground for new ven­tures. It then pro­vides poten­tial investors access to these ven­tures. Over the past 24 months, IDEA has worked with more than 200 ven­tures from every col­lege in the uni­ver­sity and pro­vided funding to 14 teams, many of which have drawn interest from out­side investors.

“IDEA is student-​​run and we’re very serious about keeping it that way,” said Dan Gre­gory, IDEA’s fac­ulty advisor. “There’s a strong peer-​​to-​​peer com­po­nent of this — no one feels that they’re going to be graded when they come to IDEA.”

The com­bi­na­tion of class­room learning, IDEA and net­working with investors is a university-​​based “system of entre­pre­neur­ship” which, McCarthy said, “embodies our rich her­itage of expe­ri­en­tial education.”