by Dana Cooley
BAMSouth.com Contributing Writer
The MSU Entrepreneurship Center offers resources to support business start-ups—a much-needed asset in our present day economy.
According to Eric Hill, the Center’s program coordinator, the core mission of the organization is “to create a culture of entrepreneurial activity; provide means to support business start-ups with awards, grants, scholarships, mentoring, and networking; provide business planning and mentoring with MSU partners such as the College of Business; create an alumni network of entrepreneurs; and partner with private businesses to expand opportunities.”While their list of support resources is impressive, the Center also offers something a bit more revolutionary: an incubator for businesses. In its 20K square foot facility are 13 office areas for local new businesses to gain their best opportunities for success. Not only does each business benefit from this arrangement, but the Center intends to group businesses in such a way that they can gain synergistic bonuses by sharing resources, experience, and support.
In order to capitalize on its present arrangement, the Center specializes in scalable technology start-ups. However, other businesses are welcome as well. Currently, the Center is “incubating” a Smoothie company, two different kinds of T-Shirt companies, and a friction stairway company with NASA collaboration.
Other resources include the Thad Cochran Endowment for Entrepreneurship (http://tcee.msstate.edu) which offers small grants to MSU student and faculty start-ups; The Students-in-Startups program provides new businesses with skilled undergraduate students to meet strategic goals by finding viable candidates and funding partial salaries to encourage the best and brightest students to participate; The Jack Hatcher Engineering Entrepreneurship Certificate “is designed for engineering students who plan to pursue a career combining technical and business skills, and consists of course work, our seminar series, and a company project experience,” according to Hill.
Another unique and promising opportunity is the elevator pitch and business plan competition held each spring which awarded over $40k in prize money last year. The last day of the competition is designed to correspond with the I-3 Day “Investing in Innovation” showcasing inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs from Mississippi State. Finally, the MSU Angel Network is a group of angel investors that meet approximately once per quarter to hear pitches related to Center start-ups. The Center’s website, http://www.ecenter.msstate.edu/, is still under construction. You can access information about the program at http://oett.msstate.edu/ until the new website is completed.
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