Montana State University

College of Business News

New Minor Encourages Enterpreneurship

 

MSU students work directly with enterpreneurs.
Have you dreamed about moving back to Montana? Are you an entrepreneur? Thinking about starting a technology company? Are you looking for new rewards in your technology career and your lifestyle? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are the perfect candidate for a new initiative called Grow Your Own (GYO) and obtain a minor in entrepreneurship as well.

Montana State University -Bozeman College of Business has partnered with two Bozeman based technology resources, TechRanch and TechLink. This partnership offers several initiatives to attract and retain Montana s greatest natural resource its college graduates.

"The students of Montana have a great entrepreneurial sprit and have a great desire to stay in Montana," says Richard Semenik, Dean of the College of Business. "This experience gives the students the confidence and knowledge to stay in Montana and grow their own business."

To meet those needs, in April 2002, the College of Business launched the Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West. The Center is located in the TechRanch business incubator and uses the resources available at the NASA and Department of Defense sponsored TechLink.

To capture the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the University, the College of Business offers the opportunity for any student of MSU to minor in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. The students working in the center are matched with MSU scientists and research entrepreneurs based in TechRanch and TechLink. The students provide marketing research, computer analysis and a wide range of business services.

In return, the experience of working directly with an entrepreneur teaches students how to take ideas and dreams from the drawing board to the marketplace

As its name implies, GYO is designed to take the University system s patented technology from the drawing board to the marketplace. This includes providing strategic and business services as well as the recruitment of top-level executives to lead the companies. Students provide research, graphics expertise and a wide range of business services in a learning environment. The partnerships between TechRanch and TechLink's entrepreneurships and the resources of students has proven to be a huge benefit to the start-up businesses and offers you another compelling reason to consider starting your next technology venture in Bozeman, Montana.

In recognition of the program s goals, the National Science Foundation has awarded the participating organizations a $600,000 Partnership for Innovation (PFI) grant. The College of Business will use $116,000 of that grant to aid and grow the Center. Semenik had this to say about the grant, "We are honored that the National Science Foundation has found our program in entrepreneurship worthy of funding. This is one of the most prestigious federal funding agencies and their standards are very, very high."

Since your MSU graduation, Bozeman has not only grown, it has matured. In the last 10 years, the city has grown 34 percent, but the result is a more diverse and stable economy due in part to a surge in technology growth. While other regional technology sectors are hard-hit by the economic downturn, Montana s technology sector is gaining momentum. Today, there are more than 45 technology companies in the Gallatin Valley and surrounding areas.

As part of the GYO program, the College of Business, TechRanch and TechLink are actively seeking technology entrepreneurs and executives to help form businesses from the University s vast technology brain trust. "We ve got some really interesting technology here," says John O Donnell, executive director for TechRanch. "For starters, we have software and information technology, bio-tech, ag-tech, optics and renewable energy."

In fact, the GYO initiative is responsible for the formation of EnviroZyme, a new company with origins in MSU s Thermal Biology Institute. EnviroZyme uses a new yeast fermentation process and will manufacture and market enzymes for industrial applications such as the aquaculture and swine feed market as well as for biomass conversion. Given today s environmental and cost concerns of target customers such as fish hatcheries, there is considerable domestic and international opportunity for this company.

The GYO program reflects a movement among universities all over the country as they recognize the importance of establishing partnerships with private sector entities to create jobs at the local and state level. By modeling the GYO program around other successful technology commercialization programs at schools such as Yale, MIT and Cornell, the GYO initiative hopes to achieve several specific goals:

Create a strong, sustainable partnership involving key university, state government and private-sector partners

Catalyze and enhance the infrastructure to create new technology companies

Establish a critical mass of new technology companies to provide a major impetus to Montana s technology sector, and most importantly

Create high-paying jobs and long-term career opportunities for MSU graduates and alumni.

In addition, by aiding economic development in Montana, the GYO program in turn will help to decrease the out-migration of a large percentage of graduates from the Montana educational system. Major economic challenges in Montana make it essential that higher-paying jobs be created to replace jobs lost from traditional industries. The creation of these new jobs will help reduce the brain drain that occurs when graduates leaves the state in search of employment opportunities.

And the next company could be yours.

If you have your own ideas for a Montana-based technology start-up, or you would like to work for an existing Montana start-up or take advantage of MSU s GYO program come check us out.

For more information on technology career opportunities in Bozeman, contact Dean Semenik at 406-994-4423 or e mail rsemenik@montana.edu,

or send a letter of interest and resume to info@techranch.org.

TechRanch - www.techranch.org/ TechLink - www.montana.edu/techlink

p.s. please forward this newsletter story to any MSU alumni or business colleague that might be thinking about starting a high-tech company, is interested in moving to Montana and working for a local start-up or would like to participate in MSU s Grow Your Own initiative.