As part of its fifth anniversary celebration this year, the University’s Center for Entrepreneurship is commemorating the programs and business ventures it’s helped inspire and facilitate since its onset.

Founded in 2008 by the College of Engineering, the Center for Entrepreneurship encourages innovative business projects among the campus community by providing tools and resources to foster entrepreneurial growth, according to Doug Neal, executive director of the center.

Neal said the center has multiple methods of fulfilling its goal, through techniques like entrepreneurial related classes, hands-on practicums and business related activities coordinated with other campus groups. The center also runs a nine-credit program, the Program in Entrepreneurship, which offers certification in entrepreneurship to students.

More than 15,000 students have been involved in the center’s entrepreneurial programs. Eighty start-ups have been involved with TechArb — a start up incubator in downtown Ann Arbor — and more than 100 speakers have spoken at the center’s lecture series, Entrepreneurship Hour.

Neal said students involved in the center’s programs are not solely focused on making money, but rather on impacting the world.

“It’s really about changing people’s lives and doing it in a sustainable way,” Neal said. “We really want to encourage students to think big and destructively about changing people’s lives for the better.”

The center has a number of goals for the upcoming years and plans to launch a master’s program in entrepreneurship this fall. In the next five years, Neal said he wants to continue to expand the resources available to students to faculty members and researchers.

Neal attributes much of the center’s success to high levels of support from University President Mary Sue Coleman and David Munson, dean of the College of Engineering.

“It’s hard to imagine a better case scenario than to have the dean (of the College of Engineering), the (University) president as well as the governor and the president of the United States all supportive of the work we are doing,” Neal said.

There are several practicums at the center in which students learn to apply entrepreneurial skills to coordinate with University-affiliated and student-organized groups on a number of events and programs, including TechArb and 1000 Pitches — MPowered’s annual entrepreneurial competition.

Business junior Alex Schiff said the practicums have been among his favorite classes at the University. Schiff, a former Michigan Daily columnist and co-founder of Fetchnotes, an online note-taking application for short messages and notes, said the Entrepreneurship Practicum helped him develop the idea for his company.

Engineering alum Gillian Henker is the co-founder of Design Innovations for Infants and Mothers Everywhere, a company that develops low-cost medical devices for emerging markets. She said the Center for Entrepreneurship taught her to better communicate with professionals in the business world, adding that the practicum she took was “a great way for hands-on learning.”

Henker said one of the greatest benefits of the center for her company was being a part of TechArb.

“Within TechArb, we’ve definitely evolved as a business significantly,” Henker said.

Henker added that entrepreneurship is burgeoning at the University, as students and faculty continue to develop innovative business ventures.

“Professors are realizing that having this entrepreneurial skill set will better prepare people,” Henker said.

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