Starting in the fall of 2010, academically talented freshman and sophomore students at the University of Maryland interested in living together and learning how to start their own companies will have a new opportunity: the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

Part of the new Honors College established by the university, this initiative, launched by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), provides freshmen and sophomores from all majors the opportunity to learn and live entrepreneurship and innovation. Through experiential learning, dynamic courses, seminars, workshops, competitions and volunteerism, students receive a world-class education in entrepreneurship and innovation. In collaboration with faculty and mentors who have successfully launched new ventures, all student teams develop an innovative idea and write a product plan. Students can also compete in the university's $75K Business Plan Competition, apply for a share of the $250,000 Mtech Impact Seed Fund and volunteer through program-managed activities.

"The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program builds upon the award-winning Hinman CEOs living-learning program for juniors and seniors," says James V. Green, director of the Hinman CEOs Program and Mtech's associate director of entrepreneurship education. "Now students entering the university will have similar access to the dynamic environment of living and learning with entrepreneurially minded individuals."

The Honors academic program combines small classes taught by exceptional faculty with the wide range of additional education opportunities offered by a large research institution. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program track starts with "Discovering New Ventures," a one-credit seminar focused on building the entrepreneurial mindset and introducing basic entrepreneurship principles and terminology. In the second semester, "Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship & Innovation" inspires innovation and creativity through interactive lectures, workshops, and case studies in contemporary issues, including energy, life sciences, healthcare and technology. The third semester includes "International Entrepreneurship & Innovation," an introduction to the opportunities and challenges of entrepreneurship and innovation from an international perspective through lectures and guest speakers with international experiences. The fourth semester is the capstone course, "Social Entrepreneurship Practicum," enhancing strategic capabilities and leadership skills through the development of an innovative for-profit product or service concept with social benefits.

The academic program also consists of Honors 100 and two Honors Seminars approved by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. Honors seminars and courses are an excellent way to satisfy graduation requirements, as many of these classes totaling 16 credits may count towards general education requirements and a student's major.

Staff offices are centrally located, so students can easily visit them to discuss their latest new venture idea or to tackle a tough legal, financial or ethical question. A national search is underway for a program director, one that is a seasoned entrepreneur, pairing practical experience with a top-tier education to coach teams and individually mentor students.

September 24, 2009

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