Lehigh University and Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center--Partnership promotes innovative thinking
The coming new year will be full of academic opportunities and challenges for Lehigh University faculty and students when a new partnership takes effect between the university’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship and the Nasdaq Entrepreneurship Center in San Francisco. Finalized in September, the agreement makes Lehigh an exclusive year-round academic partner in residence at the Nasdaq Center.
“2017 will be a prototype year for us to see how it works,” according to Baker Institute Executive Director Lisa Getzler. “We will have some anchor programs, but others might be rotated. We are contemplating something like a study abroad experience — instead to the far-off land of Silicon Valley.”
She emphasized that different programs besides just entrepreneurship will come out of the new partnership.
“We will develop programs to be held there with the entire Lehigh faculty,” she said. “We will show the way that innovative thinking can be applied across disciplines.”
On Jan.1, a portion of physical space in San Francisco called the “Innovation Hub” will become a dedicated Lehigh University facility, Getzler said. Programming there will be a combination of programs created exclusively by Lehigh, as well as in partnership with the center.
Faculty will be in residence there for specified periods of time, but not permanently.
“They will remain connected here [the main campus],” Getzler explained.
Lehigh students will also be in residence in San Francisco, where they will receive college credit for hands-on, experience-based, interactive courses in innovation, entrepreneurial thinking and problem solving. The programs and curriculum will be multidisciplinary.
As for student recruitment, Getzler said at this point the numbers are difficult to predict.
“The goal this year is to attract students from different disciplines and see what resonates. From there we will be able to build our numbers.”
She added that the program is very competitive, with approximately 200 student applications to consider.
“In addition to academic standing, we are looking for a well-rounded resume, for what the program will mean to them, and for what they will bring to the program.”
The seed for the new collaboration was sown through the Baker Institute’s LehighSilicon- Valley (LSV) three-credit immersion program that has been held for one week in the winter in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past five years. The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center was established in 2014 and has been looking for an academic partner.
The center had hosted the LSV program, so, according to Getzler, “We were on their radar because we were there, and our perspective aligned with their methodology. At that point, we weren’t necessarily thinking about a partnership, however, we had deep ties in the Bay Area through our alumni, who had very prestigious positions in tech startups and venture capital.”
Patch Knoll, a Lehigh senior undergraduate design student, participated in the LSV intensive week last year.
“We learned strategies for overcoming the most common sales and business development hurdles for early stage companies,” Knoll said, adding that CEOs presented their businesses to the class, which was divided into teams that analyzed and assessed the ventures, debated issues and reached consensus. Then the teams had to present their findings, conclusions and recommendations.
He called the experience “incredibly helpful.”
Knoll also spent a half day at the Nasdaq Center and got involved in some of the preliminary discussions about the collaboration.
“I feel honored that I was part of the group that planted the seed for this partnership,” he said.
When the contract was finally signed in San Francisco in September, Nasdaq Center Executive Director Nicola Corzine remarked, “We are excited to build a new curriculum with one of the best institutions for teaching entrepreneurial studies.”