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This blog post seeks to describe the new focus on entrepreneurship and innovation at Rice University this school year.
New Year, New Rice
The start of the 2016-2017 school year has seen a large push in entrepreneurship and innovation on the Rice University campus. Recently launched programs and organizations show Rice University’s renewed interest in promoting entrepreneurship, both through student-led efforts and university-sponsored initiatives.
At the end of the previous school year, two undergraduate entrepreneurship clubs, Rice Launch and Rice Conversations, merged to form the Rice Entrepreneurship Club. It combined the purposes of the two former clubs in order to streamline the programming of entrepreneurial activities and diversify the events it hosts for undergraduate students at Rice. The Rice Entrepreneurship Club invites local entrepreneurs to speak about their experiences at casual lunches, organizes pitch practices to allow students to develop and present their ideas, and hosts workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs to connect with mentors. The club works closely with the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and the Rice Entrepreneurship Initiative to share opportunities and resources relating to entrepreneurship to the undergraduate student body and host events like 3 Day Startup, where students collaborate to start technology companies together. Most recently, the club hosted a lunch conversation with NeoSensory, a startup co-founded by a Rice alumnus that focuses on mathematically mapping data streams with temporal characteristics and is currently developing a vest that helps the deaf experience sound through touch. More than 70 people attended this event and learned about the product development timeline, the venture capital and investment process, and university intellectual property (IP) licensing through the perspective of a startup.
In March 2016, Rice alumnus Frank Liu and his family gifted $16.5 million to the university to establish the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Lilie). Lilie aims to help students access the expertise and experiences that will help them launch their own enterprises. Courses offered through Lilie beginning next semester will encourage students to solve real-world problems while working together with faculty, entrepreneurs, and other members of the business community. Lilie established the Lilie New Entrepreneurs Grant for incoming freshmen to help the Class of 2020 fund their business ventures. Additionally, Lilie is reaching out to the entire undergraduate student population through applications for the position of Idea Ambassador. Idea Ambassadors are a team of undergraduate students from each residential college who promote information about entrepreneurship activities, programming, and ideas at Rice University to their respective college. They are responsible for hosting events at their colleges to distribute information and spark entrepreneurial and innovative dialogue.
The increased focus on entrepreneurship and innovation on campus is promising and important if the university wishes to attract more innovative talent. Hopefully, this new spark will continue to advance Rice University’s reputation as an entrepreneurship-friendly environment and hub for innovation throughout Texas and the United States.
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