Entrepreneurship at UConn is Ranked 46th by Princeton Review

Entrepreneurship at UConn is Ranked 46th by Princeton Review

 

By David Noble, Director of the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and

UConn School of Business Associate Professor in-Residence in Management

 

Today, UConn undergraduate entrepreneurship is ranked 46 in the Princeton Review/Entrepreneur Magazine rankings. This measures the course output, number of students in programs and classes, as well as the success of UConn alumni and their ventures. Many different factors played into this ranking, but the members of the Werth Institute that made this ranking real.

What Does the Werth Institute Do?

People ask us this question all of the time. The snarky answer is: What day and time is it?

The true answer is that we are an umbrella institute that has over 45 different members that focus on or support entrepreneurship at UConn. We support these members in the achievement of their goals. For instance, Innovation Quest is the student idea competition that helps prepare to students to go from an idea to starting a venture. The Werth Institute does not run this program, but we provide support to help make it a better program than it would be without University level support.

A core function of that support are activities that benefit all of our members, but no one member has a reason to burden itself with the cost of that activity. A classic tragedy of commons issue that is present in most of the interesting cross-disciplinary areas of study and practice at the University. Through that line of activity, we have growing responsibility for the communication of UConn’s entrepreneurial efforts and programs. This includes the preparation of the Princeton Review Entrepreneurship Survey.

Four Pillars of Werth Members

We categorize the Werth Institute members into four categories.

  • Learn
  • Connect
  • Create
  • Explore

This allows us to consider how we interact and engage with each other and with students. If you visit the Experience Innovation Expo, you will feel the difference through the different colors.

The Princeton Review Entrepreneurship rankings primarily focuses on the Learn component through the academic majors, minors, and classes. Secondarily, the Explore component is profiled through the programs that award cash prizes are measured and compared to those at other universities as well.

Therefore, today we will take a little closer look at these two pillars: Learn & Explore.

Learn

Academic offerings come from different schools, such as Business, Engineering, Fine Arts, and Agriculture. We had over 500 students at UConn taking courses in entrepreneurship, and we expect this number to continue to rise. We now have a number of different minors that allow students easier access to entrepreneurship offerings, while this summer UConn School of Business will launch an Entrepreneurial Fundamentals Summer Program for students that want to get many of the credits related to their minor completed without having to worry about if they will have access to the courses. There are also exciting developments around partnerships with Global Affairs and Study Abroad around technology entrepreneurship.

If you are an alum wondering how you can help deliver on this mission, I would suggest you consider double dipping. Scholarship money dedicated to entrepreneurship is extremely important to the sustainability of our academic offerings and our rankings such as the Princeton Review. Furthermore, you can support students with scholarships in any School or Major. Please reach out to the Werth Institute (werth.institute@uconn.edu) if this is of interest to you.

Explore

As part of the Explore pillar, we run numerous programs that de-risk entrepreneurial endeavors for students. Providing support, mentorship, and leadership opportunities to students that are trying to bring a product to market is an essential capability for UConn. Students have all manner of ideas and opportunities that they are trying to commercialize, whether developed in a class or on their own. As students move through these programs, they require increasing levels of commitment and attention.

Students can obtain tiny amounts of money to build an early stage prototype through GetSeeded, which is a large collaborations marshalled by CCEI (a Werth Institute Member). These small funds support taking a project from nothing to something. Often times, it is the absolute first step in a student’s entrepreneurial journey at UConn. All they need is an idea to build something and a few slides in a slide deck.

Whereas, we also provide significantly greater levels of support through a multitude of programs, including the School of Engineering’s 3rd Bridge grant program. 3rd Bridge supports engineering students with more advanced technologies that require initial funding for proof of concept and market discovery. Oftentimes, the student startup is connected to research from a School of Engineering laboratory. Recent 3rd Bridge grant winners have been through MassChallenge accelerator and won the Wolff Family Prize for the top entrepreneurship team at UConn.

The next stages of support will be built out with more advanced and directed matchmaking and mentoring for teams. As the Werth Institute expands its human capital, it will focus on providing our programs with access for their student entrepreneurs to the mentors that they need to be successful. Again, if this sounds interesting to you, please reach out to our office.

What Now?

Rankings are great. A lesson any entrepreneur reading this can learn is that you should not be lulled into trusting others statements about your product. You need to keep working on your customer relationships.

If we have 500 students in entrepreneurship classes, and we have 30,000+ students at the University of Connecticut, that means we have a ways to go! The Werth Institute needs to keep working on its partnerships and collaborations that provide greater access for students to the support and education that they need to be successful employees, entrepreneurs, and grad students.

This spring we will spend a great deal of time meeting with more diverse groups on how we can help them achieve their goals. We look forward to showing up in new places, and we look forward to giving voice to underrepresented students in the entrepreneurship population. Greater inclusion and representation are key elements to the improvement of all outcomes with regard to Werth Institute members. Everything is circular, as inclusion is one of those things that makes every program better, but no one program owns inclusion.

Therefore, it is clear that there is no shortage of opportunities for growth in Entrepreneurship at UConn, but today we have the first public validation of the excellent work that Werth Institute members are doing. Excellence should be celebrated, but remember that it is a constantly moving target.

 

David Noble is the Director of the Werth Institute, and you can connect with him on LinkedIn. Connect with him if you would like to learn more about Entrepreneurship at UConn or you will be needing a keynote speaker for your event.