As Indiana University strengthens its focus on promoting innovation and commercialization in the 21st century — and fostering a culture of “building and making” as IU President Michael A. McRobbie noted in his fall State of the University address — already we are seeing these programs take shape.
One such effort is a memorandum of understanding just reached between VisionTech Partners and the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing. It calls for collaboration to accelerate opportunities for IU students, faculty, staff and entrepreneurs to develop and commercialize business ideas based on information technology or life sciences.
VisionTech has long worked with IU’s Kelley School of Business in helping investors, entrepreneurs, the business community, and the public learn more about business formation and angel investing. In describing how the agreement will enhance IU’s innovation ecosystem, School of Informatics and Computing Dean Bobby Schnabel noted that “the opportunities are here” but more must be done to capitalize on them.
“We have a tremendous wealth of creative, intelligent people at IU,” he said. “With focused mentoring from VisionTech Partners in the areas of entrepreneurship and business formation, (we) have the potential to develop and commercialize the next transformative idea or technology.”
— Bobby Schnabel, dean, IU School of Informatics and Computing
As VisionTech managing partner Don Scifres put it, the effort will help IU identify and polish “diamonds in the rough” that have commercial potential.
“Universities are important sources of new technologies and business startups,” he said. “Our expertise is in helping entrepreneurs develop their ideas in order to attract investor interest and assisting in identifying and participating in high-quality investment opportunities.”
Another initiative is a new master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation to be delivered online by the Kelley School of Business. Such an offering is critical to the needs of America’s future workforce, as research suggests that by 2050 the traditional notion of a “full-time employee” will become a workplace relic. By then, up to 80 percent of the U.S. population – four in five Americans – will work as independent contractors, most notably in the professional ranks.
Those who earn the new Kelley degree will be better equipped to start a new business on their own once they leave a company, become a more valued executive, or move into more innovative ventures. The design team for the new program was led by Donald F. Kuratko, the Jack M. Gill Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship at the Kelley School and executive and academic director of Kelley’s Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“What we’re trying to get across with this new degree is we want to break away from the old, traditional thinking of entrepreneurship as only starting new businesses. It’s really about this mindset that most people have but very rarely tap into. We want to instill this mindset in our students and unlock the possibilities of what they can do on their own.”
— Donald F. Kuratko, Jack M. Gill Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship
Kelley is believed to be the nation’s first accredited business school to present an online Master of Science degree in entrepreneurship. U.S. News & World Report, as well as Fortune magazine, consistently have ranked Kelley’s entrepreneurship program No. 1 among U.S. public universities.