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Fund Builds 'Bridge" For Student Ventures

Date: April 23, 2002
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Archive: General News

In May, the two UC MBA teams that have been in national competition this month will take part in an on-campus competition every bit as important to their future business prospects.

The teams are two of four MBA student teams competing in the first Bearcat Bridge Fund competition.

In Portland, the MBA team of Dan Shelly, Jessica Miller and Thad Edmonds

The fund is designed to facilitate student-initiated venture launches after graduation. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded in May, with four teams submitting applications. "The goal when we put this together was to remove all of the barriers students traditionally encounter moving from the classroom to the business environment," says Charles Matthews, associate professor of strategic management and director of the UC Center for Entrepreneurship Education and Research. The money will be used for start-up expenses like business cards, brochures, travel expenses and legal consultation.

Funding for the Bearcat Bridge Fund comes from a $50,000 grant awarded to UC's Center for Entrepreneurship Education and Research. The grant was from the Chicago-based Coleman Foundation, working through the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. UC was one of only seven recipients selected by the grant program last year out of more than 175 requests for funding.

The long-term goal for the grant is to build links for entrepreneurial initiatives between students from the College of Business Administration and other UC colleges, including Engineering, Law, Medicine, and Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

Links are already in place between undergraduate business and MBA students taking new venture business plan courses with engineering students taking senior design and venture courses. The goal is for these students to jointly prepare business plans for new ventures, with an emphasis on producing viable plans that lead to actual launch.

The MBA team headed to New York: Bill Kinnaird, Paolo Dominguez and Mike Ross

An initial partnership between MBA and Engineering students in 2000 created a business plan for a new venture that focused on refining a new and innovative emissive technology pioneered in the College of Engineering. In national competition, that plan placed third at the Indiana University Spirit of Enterprise Business Plan Case Competition and among the top five at the University of Oregon New Venture Championship.

Matthews is the grant's principal investigator. Ed Grood, professor of engineering mechanics in the College of Engineering's Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, is the co-principal investigator.

Along with Grood and Matthews, the Bearcat Bridge Fund's advisory panel includes: Chris Allen, Sid Barton, Ilse Hawkins, Glenn Henderson, Larry Horwitz and Jens Stephan from the CBA faculty; Peter Letsou from the College of Law; Rick Kieser from River Cities Capital Funds; Brandee Krabill and Curtis Ring from Brandstorm, Northlich Stolley LaWarre; Mitchell Robinson from Key Bank; Chris Nawalaniec from Matdan Corporation; and Robert Ratterman from The Walnut Group.

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