Rhett Weiss

Rhett Weiss

Mar 08 2013

EII Ramps Up: A Period of Both Expansion and Convergence

EII Ramps Up:  A Period of Both Expansion and Convergence

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute (EII) has started 2013 on a roll, continuing to launch several new initiatives and expand existing ones to benefit the diverse stakeholders of our entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.  In everything that we do, we try to create or facilitate synergistic opportunities -- where industry and academic resources converge, classroom learning and experiential learning converge, business and tech converge, local and global converge, or research and practical application converge.

We finished the 2012 academic year with 14 EII Fellows Program (EIIFP) members.  We now have 60.  They represent all four MBA programs and a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and geographies.  EIIFP members either have supported or started a variety of EII initiatives.  Here are just four examples.

First, several members have been actively involved in BR Tech Transfer (BRT).  BRT’s mission is to help Cornell commercialize more technology faster.  Last Fall, these students launch the first set of reviews with CCTEC Portfolio Managers, analyzing the business case surrounding various Cornell discoveries/inventions and making recommendations about taking these to market.  BRT is poised for further growth and engagement with CCTEC, not just in Ithaca but also at Weill Cornell in NYC.

Second, the EII Project Mentors Program is now in its third semester, adding more courses in the Engineering College to the program and placing more MBA students with project teams in those courses.  The MBA students guide those teams to focus on and address the critical business issues in their tech commercialization and company formation projects.  Mentors, mentees, and faculty are seeing the advantages of this partnership and look forward to the end-of-semester presentations and judging.

Third, EIIFP members have been involved in an ever-increasing number of hands-on projects involving the creation of Cornell-affiliated startups and market feasibility of innovations that originate both at Cornell and also in industry.  We now are contacted virtually weekly about helping with a startup or innovation.  These are fantastic experiential learning and networking opportunities for our students while providing real value as well to the project sponsors.  And, some of these engagements even pay a fee to EII to help defray program costs!

Fourth, EII is launching its first-ever e-newsletter.   This initiative has involved some great legwork, effort, and creativity of EIIFP members.  They helped to build the newsletter content and related web content from scratch.  They coordinated with and navigated various Johnson and other Cornell departments to develop and refine the format, distribution list, and launch steps.  And, they are systematizing this initiative to the extent possible so that future issues can be created and emailed efficiently.  If you want to be on the distribution list, please email us at ContactEII@cornell.edu.

EIIFP also has provided bench strength to create new or build on existing internship programs and strategic partnerships.  And, these reach coast to coast, literally.  For instance, on the East Coast, EII has formed a new strategic partnership with General Assembly in NYC to pilot a program that provides our students, faculty, and alums exclusive access to GA’s highly acclaimed programming.  On the West Coast, we are growing our existing relationship with Plug and Play, a premier startup incubator and accelerator in Sunnyvale, CA, by connecting our Silicon Valley-based EIIFP members with Plug and Play’s networking opportunities and entrepreneurship events.

And, EII’s reach is not just in the US but global.  While I continue to give presentations and workshops both domestically and overseas usually on negotiations for entrepreneurs, EII has been attracting more participation by local, national, and international speakers in the Innovation Seminar Series and Entrepreneurship Seminar Series.  We are also hosting 3 panels at the annual E@C Celebration.  Check out the full schedule here:  E@C Celebration.

There are several other activities as well on the academic front, from new course creation to publishing key research.  Among them, I was asked to create and deliver the first entrepreneurship course at Cornell Tech in NYC.  The course is called Tech Enterprises, and Cornell Tech’s inaugural semester started in January.  Next semester, Johnson will provide the Innovation course at Cornell Tech.  These courses not only provide a material component of the Cornell Tech curriculum, but they also present a very practical opportunity for us to re-envision and augment our entrepreneurship and innovation curriculum at Johnson in Ithaca.

Between my being in NYC part of each week and our talented and energetic EIIFP members who are executive MBA students based in the NYC region, we are actively networking with its burgeoning entrepreneurship and tech scenes.  Another related convergence ties back to project sourcing.  We already have EIIFP members working on a medical device-related project in collaboration with the Technion Cornell Innovation Institute at Cornell Tech.  All of this in turn fits nicely with Johnson’s stated goal to expand its presence and programming in NYC.

Please stay tuned for more to come.  As always, we welcome your suggestions, projects, and other opportunities for EII to explore, particularly, to be blunt, those that will help fund our programs, operations, and research.  Please feel free to contact us at ContactEII@cornell.edu.



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