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ASU launches rapid startup school aimed at postdocs, grad students

October 07, 2011

Arizona State University’s Venture Catalyst in collaboration with ASU’s technology transfer arm, Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), is launching a new program aimed at creating startup activity among postdoctoral researchers and graduate students.

As opposed to standard academic modules and programs, this part-time program applies a very ‘pracademic’ approach to developing an entrepreneurial mindset and real new venture creation. The program modules are taught by pracademic adjunct faculty from leading external organizations, supplemented by online modules from the ASU Venture Catalyst.

“It is a matter of evangelizing entrepreneurship to those ‘latent’ entrepreneurs that exist within Arizona State University," said Gordon McConnell, executive director of the Venture Catalyst. "In a sense this is a ‘school’ that isn’t a school in the traditional sense. We want to cover the main aspects of creating a new venture, taught by people who do this as a day job, but with an emphasis on the participants thinking about their own venture or idea. An MBA student or a young researcher may have an idea from one of the university’s research labs, but doesn’t know where to start in terms of developing the idea or a team to execute the idea.”

These mini-modules are two or three hours long, depending on the subject matter, and delivered after-hours on the Tempe campus. The program includes additional course materials to allow participants to work on their ideas outside of class. As new venture creation and founder team formation is a core objective of the program, networking sessions among the participants will occur throughout the program. 

“The Rapid Startup School is a tremendous resource for aspiring ASU entrepreneurs to receive real-world training in the essentials of launching a new business,” said Charlie Lewis, vice president of venture development for Arizona Technology Enterprises.

After the program concludes, one-on-one meetings with relevant new startups to further develop their startup roadmaps, team creation and product development will be scheduled with ASU Venture Catalyst team members. ASU Venture Catalyst is the ASU unit that works with startup companies, both inside and outside the university, including managing the student startup accelerator, the Edson program.

This new program is offered free to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. It is based on a successful similar program that McConnell ran in Dublin City University in Ireland where out of the first cohort of seventeen young researchers, two startups were created.

“The first experiment was successful and later Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) which is similar to the NSF here in the US asked me to repeat the program which participants from all the universities in Ireland” McConnell added. The new Rapid Startup School will commence Oct. 25 on the ASU Tempe campus.

Information and registration is available here.