Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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June 25, 2024 | Tom Ballard

U News 1 | Howard U partners with PNC Bank, three other historically Black colleges and universities

Nearly one in four undergraduates at the University of Maryland is enrolled in an entrepreneurship course.

From Howard University:

PNC Bank and Howard University have established the Howard University & PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at bridging the funding gap and empowering Black entrepreneurs.

The collaboration extends beyond Howard’s campus, involving a regional structure with four leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Howard University leads the Mid-Atlantic Region that includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The other universities, each leading a region, are:

  • Clark Atlanta University (Southeast Region that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and the Virgin Islands);
  • Morgan State University (Mid-South Region that covers Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee); and
  • Texas Southern University (Southwest Region that includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas).

This regional approach allows for effective coordination of programs and activities across all HBCUs, including educational programs, research strategies, and business outreach initiatives. The PNC Foundation has backed its commitment with a five-year, $16.8 million grant to support scholarships, loan programs, and educational initiatives designed to empower aspiring Black entrepreneurs.

From the University of California, Los Angeles:

A new program being launched by the University of California, Los Angeles(UCLA) will advance goal #1 of school’s strategic plan: to deepen the university’s engagement with Los Angeles.

Known as Bruin Founders, the new initiative will offer aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators one year of guidance from mentors and support from alumni and affiliates. It is led by Brija Johnson, Executive Director of UCLA Ventures and its community of UCLA entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that supports UCLA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The program moved under the UCLA Technology Development Group in 2023, at which point Johnson, who had been with the group as a Technology Scouting Manager since 2021, inherited the venture program’s 209 members made up of alumni, friends and affiliates of the university.

According to what Johnson said in this recent interview, the program will help bring in UCLA-affiliated start-ups and any seasoned entrepreneurs looking to support and contribute to the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at UCLA.

From the University of Maryland:

The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine recently ranked the University #5 across all institutions, #4 among public universities and #1 in the Mid-Atlantic region for undergraduate entrepreneurship programs — marking a ninth straight year in the top 10.

Nearly one in four undergraduates — more than 7,000 — in 89 majors are enrolled in undergraduate entrepreneurship courses at the university. Those courses are taught by 59 faculty members across 30 departments.

“Students, faculty, staff and alums of the University of Maryland have a long and inspiring tradition of innovation that spans the arts, humanities and sciences, from Google and Beyond Meat to the Muppets and Under Armour,” said President Darryll J. Pines.

From West Virginia University:

Self-employment and entrepreneurship rates among women and Black people lag well behind those of white males, especially in rural areas. With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, West Virginia University (WVU) researchers are trying to understand why.

The research, led by Heather Stephens, Professor of Resource Economics and Management and Director of the Regional Research Institute, aims to identify what factors could support entrepreneurship for women and minorities, as well as barriers that deter them from starting their own businesses.

The project is a collaboration with Daniel Eades, a WVU Extension specialist in rural economics. Results of the research will be used to help local and regional economic development professionals establish policies and programs to facilitate success for such groups.

From the University of California, Irvine:

The University of California, Irvine has received a $50 million donation from Orange County biotech entrepreneur Charlie Dunlop for the School of Biological Sciences. His gift will create an endowed fund that will provide unrestricted support for academic and research activities within the school. In honor of Dunlop’s transformative contributions and pioneering spirit in biology and medicine, the University will rename the school the Charlie Dunlop School of Biological Sciences, setting an inspiring example for future students to innovate and apply groundbreaking discoveries.

Dunlop is one of the leading biotech scientists and entrepreneurs in Orange County. He founded Ambry Genetics in 1999 in a small office above a Harley-Davidson motorcycle shop after raising about $500,000 from friends and family. The company became a pioneer in genetic testing and is the first in the world to offer such tests as hereditary cancer panels and clinical exome sequencing.

Additionally, Dunlop championed the open sharing of genetic data. This openness has revolutionized the industry and catalyzed advancements in health sciences globally. During his time at Ambry, Dunlop found UC Irvine to be a valuable source of scientific personnel, regularly hiring biological sciences graduates. Dunlop was President and Chair of the Board of Ambry Genetics until it was sold to Konica Minolta in 2017.

From the University of Texas at Austin:

That other color of orange university in the Southeastern Conference and the City of Austin are working together on a new initiative named the UT-Climate City CoLab. It is a collaborative effort between climate scientists at the University of Texas and the city to help bridge the gap between climate science and policymaking in Austin, said Allysa Dallmann, City Climate Program Coordinator of the TeXus Lab under the Jackson School of Geosciences.

At the beginning of June, CoLab released its first technical report, outlining climate projections throughout the next century. Alongside the climate report, CoLab also released a Heat Resilience Playbook, which outlines resources available to help build heat resilience within Austin. The collaborators are also working on various ongoing climate projects, including creating a thermal map of Austin that would provide safe, shaded routes for people to take during the summer to be less exposed to the sun during peak heat hours.

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