Northeastern on Tuesday night received a prestigious award recognizing the university’s strong culture of entrepreneurship, which combines innovative academic programs, experiential learning, and student-led organizations that help young entrepreneurs launch and grow their own businesses.
Northeastern was honored with this year’s Entrepreneurial University Award at the Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education, which brings together academics, policy planners, and practitioners from around the globe to discuss best practices for integrating entrepreneurship throughout college and university communities.
The award is presented annually to an institution that “demonstrates overall excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship.”
“Northeastern’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is an organic, bottom-up movement, started by, and for, students,” said Raj Echambadi, the Dunton Family Dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. “We pride ourselves in creating and training ‘Chief Entrepreneurial Officers’ who think differently and are capable of solving the grand challenges of business and society in a global economy. This award is a testament to the strength of experiential learning through the integration of rigorous classroom education and real-world entrepreneurial engagement.”
The award marks the second time in the past four years that Northeastern has received an award at the symposium, which was co-founded by the Deshpande Foundation, a non-governmental organization focused on accelerating the creation of social enterprises, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Northeastern also won the Excellence in Student Engagement in Entrepreneurship award at the symposium in 2015.
“Entrepreneurship is fueling economic growth and development around the world and we are proud to honor the institutions and individuals recognized by the Deshpande Symposium Awards for their leadership and commitment to educating the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, co-founder of the Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education and awards committee member.
Northeastern’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, driven by students
Northeastern’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education oversees the majority of the university’s entrepreneurship education programs and initiatives.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are central themes of the university’s academic plan, Northeastern 2025. Experiential learning, particularly Northeastern’s co-op program, is at the core of the university’s mission to train students and alumni to become entrepreneurs. More than 250 students work on co-op at startups around the world each year, while others develop their own startups on co-op.
About 2,000 students take at least one Northeastern’s 35 entrepreneurship courses each year. Individual colleges, including the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the College of Arts, Media and Design, also offer degree programs, certificate programs, and minors in entrepreneurship at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Semester in Silicon Valley, a program that began last fall, enables students to take courses in entrepreneurship and business while working at local startups, launching their own companies, and networking with alumni and other professionals in the area.
IDEA, Northeastern’s student-led venture accelerator, supports student, faculty, and alumni ventures by providing gap funding, coaching, and mentoring. Over the past five years, more than $1.2 million in gap funding has been awarded to IDEA ventures, two-thirds of which are co-founded by non-business school students or alumni.
IDEA is part of Mosaic, Northeastern’s alliance of student-led organizations that support startups at the university. Mosaic also includes Scout, a design studio; Generate, a product design and prototyping studio; and the IP-COLAB, a legal clinic that specializes in intellectual property. The Entrepreneurs Club, another component of Mosaic, hosts speaker series, workshops, and a boot camp called Husky Startup Challenge that helps students develop their early-stage concepts into ventures.
Three major networking programs—the McCarthy(s) Venture Mentoring Network, Health Sciences Entrepreneurs, and the Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Entrepreneurship Education—support Northeastern-based startups in a variety of ways. The Sherman Center, for example, offers workshops, courses, and co-ops for undergraduate engineering students who want to successfully pitch and commercialize their innovations.
Northeastern’s Nurse Innovation and Entrepreneurship program offers a certificate program, runs hackathons, and connects nurses with mentors. The university recently created a National Science Foundation I-Corps program to help scientists and engineers—primarily PhD students and research staff—launch companies using lab-based research. The university also created a so-called Alpha Fund to provide larger-level grants to entrepreneurs for early-stage product prototyping.