One-third of all business incubators are on college and university campuses around the country. Colleges and universities are developing business programs that support the entrepreneurial impulse. As an academic trend, it’s relatively healthy. The number of colleges offering classes in startup cultures has grown from 250 in 1985 to over 5,000 in 2008.
Harvard launched their Innovation Lab in 2011, and it has created over 75 businesses. Not to be outdone, Northwestern University has introduced their version of a startup center called the Garage.
Amherst College offers their students the opportunity to engage with the Amherst College Entrepreneurship Initiative. Amherst seems to be well placed for launching students into life as entrepreneurs, especially when one reviews their outstanding alumni, including leaders in the financial industry like Bill E Ford, Chief Executive Officer at General Atlantic. He’s a stellar example of the potential success for all students with a desire to innovate excellence as entrepreneurs.
Students at Amherst are encouraged to discover opportunities to connect with their world in meaningful ways by working with the Center for Community Engagement. It combines academic studies with a direct experience of the social, political, and cultural issues impacting communities in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley.
During their training students develop the skills required by leaders in business and public service sectors. They learn how to use innovation to collaborate. They discover how to improve their self-knowledge while challenging their biases and confronting false assumptions.
Entrepreneurs at Amherst can further develop their nascent leadership skills by attending the Emerging Leaders Retreat. During this leadership development program, participants conduct powerful self-assessments and learn to clarify their core principles.
Amherst student entrepreneurs, alumni, and faculty who want to launch their enterprises may connect with regional mentorship organization that supports promising startups. Valley Venture Mentors provides the network of social and business connections that many startup founders lack. The startup staff has the ideas, but they often need professional support and people skilled in manufacturing, fulfillment, marketing, and finance.
The mentors in the program are executive-level leaders from energy, engineering, finance, healthcare, nonprofit, and technology industries. One mentor, Roman Radkovets, was so happy about the outcome of his involvement with the program, he was moved to say, “I came to pay forward the help given to me when I was starting out. Next thing I know, I am learning almost as much as the startup I was helping.”
Earlier entrepreneurs either skipped college altogether or started on their career path after college. Today’s colleges and universities focus on elevating entrepreneurship within an academic setting. To learn more about entrepreneurship on campus read this informative New York Times article.