Nearly five years have passed since our 2016 launch following a generous founding gift from Jonathan M. Nelson ’77 P’07 P’09. In the coming months, we are excited to catch up with alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends to share and reflect through a Nelson@5 video series commemorating highlights and milestones.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND THE OPEN CURRICULUM
To kick off the celebration, we chatted with folks like Elvia Perez ’22, current Peer Entrepreneur in Residence, and Christian Anthony ’96, a member of our President’s Advisory Council on Entrepreneurship, and others. They share how the Nelson Center’s support of new entrepreneurship courses and of cutting-edge entrepreneurship research have enhanced and expanded the Brown community’s understanding of how entrepreneurship can solve significant problems.
Our curricular efforts continue to evolve and reflect critical trends in entrepreneurship. Students can take new courses like Jennifer Nazareno’s Global Dynamics and Critical Perspectives on Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the United States, Linda Scott’s Gender, Women and Enterprise, Howard Anderson’s Entrepreneurial Management in Adversity, and Alice Nichols’ Eco-Entrepreneurship, among many others. In addition to teaching Leadership in Organizations, Banu Ozkazanc-Pan launched the Venture Capital Inclusion Lab, a cutting-edge research group that investigates issues of equity in entrepreneurship and access to capital. Both Nazareno and Ozkazanc-Pan are hosting our second academic research conference on June 21, 2021—a forum in which to discuss and examine entrepreneurship at the intersection of women, refugees, immigrants, allyship, and anti-Black racism. And of course, we have launched the Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship which provides a curricular structure for undergraduate students who want to make entrepreneurship an important part of their intellectual journey.
BIG PROBLEMS, BIG SOLUTIONS
This second video installment focuses on how our students leverage the Nelson Center’s venture support programs, like the Breakthrough Lab (B-Lab) accelerator, to solve big problems. We spoke with the director of B-Lab, Jason Harry, along with a few B-Lab alumni including Robbie Felton ‘21, co-founder of Intus Care, and Elvia Perez ‘22, founder of EmpowerU. We also spoke with Scott Friend ‘87 P‘22, a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Entrepreneurship, who explains why programs that support early-stage ventures are so valuable.
When it comes to venture support, we have a variety of paths students can take. We offer a diverse list of grant opportunities including Explore & Expand Grants, Grants for Addressing Anti-Black and Systemic Racism, Climate Change Grants, and Hazeltine Grants focused on encouraging more students to design and build technology-related projects. Students can also apply to take part in the Brown Venture Prize Pitch Competition, a competition where Brown’s most advanced ventures pitch to a select group of judges for the chance to win prize money, critical mentorship, and access to leaders in the Brown entrepreneurial community and beyond. We run a coworking space in our building called Community Lab (Co-Lab), where a community of Brown and RISD student entrepreneurs develops new ventures that are creating high-impact and scalable solutions to a diverse range of problems. We also support Van Wickle Ventures (VWV), a student-run venture fund through which its student leaders learn about venture capital firsthand by investing a pool of funds in Brown and RISD-affiliated companies.