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.”