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At Global Entrepreneurship Week, innovation crosses disciplines

To kick off the Center for Research Innovation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, each Northeastern dean had the opportunity to describe the role entrepreneurship played in his or her college.

Just one problem: It turns out five minutes isn’t nearly enough time. Deans, admittedly verbose by their very nature, consistently ran out the clock describing new initiatives and endeavors, each time drawing a friendly cue from CRI director Tracey Dodenhoff.

As each dean spoke, a common theme emerged: Northeastern is home to a vital and growing community of entrepreneurs, working across disciplines to develop creative solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow.

Engineering dean Nadine Aubry spoke during the Global Entrepreneurship Week kickoff event.

“The only education really worth having is one where you take what you know and know how to use it,” said School of Law dean Jeremy Paul, describing how Northeastern’s longstanding commitment to real-world, experiential education and use-inspired research gives the university an extra advantage in fostering entrepreneurs. “For law students, entrepreneurship is not merely the sideline; it is the main event.”

Hugh Courtney, the dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, said the co-op program gives the university a tremendous competitive advantage over other schools because of the level of engagement with industry Northeastern students receive.

“These students we are getting today have the academic credentials to go anywhere in the world,” Courtney said. “So why do they choose to come here? It’s co-op. Think about the guts and lack of risk-aversion a 17- or 18-year-old has to have to make that choice. The students we have are born entrepreneurs.”

“It’s our job to catch up,” he added, describing new institutional endeavors, like the Center for Entrepreneurship Education, which are key to sharing the business school’s academic approach to entrepreneurship with programs across the university.

At the start of the kickoff event, held Tuesday night in the Raytheon Amphitheater in the Egan Research Center, Dodenhoff described the past year as a landmark for innovation at Northeastern. The university, she said, saw an 88 percent increase in invention disclosure and 10 new patents, citing a few examples from CRI’s newly-released annual report.

Global Entrepreneurship Week, which started Tuesday and runs through Friday, brings sessions on entrepreneurship and innovation across academic disciplines to campus. Tuesday’s events included the inaugural B.I.G. Venture Fair in the Curry Student Center and co-hosted by CRI and Career Services. B.I.G, which stands for business, innovation and growth, connected startups from across the Boston area with students eager to build partnerships or pursue a career at an up-and-coming venture.

President Joseph E. Aoun (left) shakes hands with Randy Dailey, computer science ’09, who works for Localytics, a mobile application analytics company, at the B.I.G. Venture Fair.

President Joseph E. Aoun also toured the fair, greeting students and learning more about the entrepreneurial ventures on display.

At another event on Tuesday, students got an up-close look at how one of film’s most beloved characters found his way into a social-media adventure game. The session, titled “Indiana Jones Adventure World: Making Core Gameplay for Everyone” and hosted by the Northeastern Center for the Arts, featured 2007 mechanical engineering alumnus Seth Sivak discussing the development of the successful game for Facebook.

Seth Sivak, who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2007, spoke about video game design.

[media-credit id=19 align=”alignright” width=”350″][/media-credit]“We said, ‘Let’s make changes quickly, let’s come up with prototypes and just keep throwing away things that aren’t fun,” said Sivak, describing his team’s mentality in creating a game that would appeal to all audiences and thrive in a competitive environment. “Because we weren’t making a game that was just for gamers; we were a small team but we had to come up with a product that could appeal to people of all ages.”