Here at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, we’re helping students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community think more like innovators or start and grow businesses. We’re out in front of a university-wide pledge to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across campus. Smith has a long history of a strong commitment to these values and never before have there been so many opportunities to participate.
Each Friday this semester we will highlight some of the exciting things happening around innovation and entrepreneurship here at the Smith School. There is far too much activity to cover in the next few months.
The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, the Smith School’s hub of entrepreneurial activity for more than 25 years, this fall joined forces with the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute to offer “Innovation Fridays,” entrepreneurship resources across campus every week. The Dingman Center runs its Pitch Dingman program, offering feedback and mentoring for even the earliest entrepreneurial ideas across campus.
The Dingman Center’s main event is the Cupid’s Cup business competition on Friday, April 5, at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The eighth annual competition continues to be supported by Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, ’96, and this year competition is open to student entrepreneurs nationwide to compete for $70,000 in cash and access to Plank’s network. It is expected to draw and audience of 1,000 students, alumni and regional entrepreneurs and investors.
The Dingman Center also incubates student companies in its EntERPreneur Academy program and works closely with the A. James Clark School of Engineering on programming and converting university-developed technologies into businesses. Center staff and a group of MBA students recently returned from Beijing, where the Smith School hosted the eighth annual China Business Plan Competition. MBAs can also take part in Dingman Center’s venture practicum course, a for-credit opportunity to work with early-stage startups as part of the experiential Smith Experience program.
The Smith School also houses the Center for Social Value Creation, which nurtures social entrepreneurship across campus. The center mentors social entrepreneurs, listening to pitches each week in McKeldin Library as part of “Innovation Fridays.” This semester, the center hosts its fifth annual Social Enterprise Symposium on March 1. The daylong event includes the No Limits social entrepreneurship business plan competition.
The Smith School is committed to offering entrepreneurship courses and weaving innovative thinking throughout the curriculum for all students. We’ll take an in-depth look at one stand-out MBA course, “Real 660,” (#Real660) that has students creating and running real businesses in a seven-week class. You can watch the drama unfold in a multi-part video series we’ll feature here as part of our Innovation Fridays coverage.
Outside the classroom, the Smith School has a number of faculty actively committed to the study of entrepreneurship and innovation – many of whom are entrepreneurs themselves. In the coming weeks, we’ll take at look at some of their work (Professors Rajshree Agarwal, Brent Goldfarb and David Kirsch, to name a few).
The Smith School’s reach extends beyond campus, too. Entrepreneurs throughout the region benefit from a robust and very active investor network run out of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Dingman Center Angels. And Smith provides expertise and feedback to local startups and small business owners through a partnership with the Washington Post’s Capital Business newspaper in weekly advice column dubbed “Business Rx.”
This offers just a quick snapshot of some of the entrepreneurship activities happening at Smith this semester. Tune in each week to see how Smith is helping to build businesses and fuel innovative thinking. You might just find you’re inspired to try something entrepreneurial yourself. As economists point out, there has never a better time to be an entrepreneur – especially one connected to the Smith School.