Laura Black helps students

Laura Black helps students at the Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West

Now in the second year, The Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West at Montana State University - Bozeman College of Business provides a framework for outstanding educational experience for students. Within the College curriculum, entrepreneurship course work is offered to students from an major in the University through a 30 credit-hour entrepreneurship minor.

Laura Black, Visiting Assistant Professor of Management and the center's director of student research services, has the overall responsibility to manage the program, implement outreach courses, coordinate executive visits and manage the student research assignments. She also recruits students, allocates scholarships from the Center and helps students find funding for outstanding start-up business ideas.

The Center's private sector partner is TechRanch ( a non-profit business incubator serving entrepreneurs and investors. The Center coordinates students who are minoring in entrepreneurship and faculty from the College of Business to provide research and analysis services to the incubating firms.

Acknowledging the first anniversary celebration in April, Senator Conrad Burns (R-Montana) sent a letter that stated "The Entrepreneurship Center is a perfect example of the university working with the private sector to commercialize University research."

Senator Max Baucus (D-Montanta) added "That by working together, (education and private sector) we can create jobs, boost our economy and ensure Montanan's have the skill to compete in the global economy." Both statements are powerful examples of the strength of the Center and the potential educational and research.

Another important feature is the facilitating role the Center can play in helping to commercialize science. TechLink (, our other key partner, is a federally funded organization whose mission is to stimulate economic development in the region using technology developed within various federal agencies such as NASA and the Department of Defense. The Center for Entrepreneurship works with TechLink and TechRanch staff members to assess the business viability and commercialization prospects.

Partnerships with both a business incubator and a technology transfer organization make the Center unique among university-based centers. Representatives from the National Center for Entrepreneurship and from the American Association of Business Incubators have commented positively on this potent structure and its potential for stimulating economic development as well as providing first-class practical education for student entrepreneurs. So much so, that the Center received a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Another important feature is the facilitating role the Center can play in helping to commercialize science that exists in other departments of MSU-Bozeman. The interaction among scientists, students and business practitioners that can help bring this science to commercialization. While the science has passed the rigors of laboratory and field testing, it still needs to be put through tests for commercial viability. The Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West will provide the mechanism through which commercial viability will be assessed.

Since opening the doors, 18 students have earned a minor in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management and an additional 12 students are currently on task to reach their goal of obtaining this minor.