October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

The Research Institution GAP Fund and Accelerator Program Summit

FSU Introduces Innovation Foundation To Accelerate Student Entrepreneurship

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

FSU President Eric Barron announced plans for a future organization dedicated to assisting student entrepreneurs in transforming their ideas into real businesses — the FSU Innovation Foundation.

He could find BMWs and Mercedes in his South Florida high school parking lot. Many of his peers lived in gated mansions. But Skyler Rogers, an FSU senior, didn’t have the fortune of possessing these luxuries. He didn’t feel sorry for himself or wish for fortune to just find him one day. Instead, Rogers asked himself, “Why not me?”

The living situation of his youth drove Rogers to pursue his ultimate goal: the freedom to attain personal financial security so he can enjoy life without the worry about how he’s going to pay the bills. Inevitably, he hopes what began as a plan of survival will someday turn into a plan to do as he pleases without the worry of a price tag attached.

“It’s not about being your own boss and making the big bucks; it’s about changing the world and most importantly, survival,” said Rogers, an entrepreneurial major at FSU.

Rogers works day and night on multiple start-up companies and projects to financially support himself. While other students go out and sleep in, Rogers stays in on his computer working on his next big venture.

Florida State recently committed to help foster the drive and stamina it takes to get a start-up business off of the ground.

FSU President Eric Barron announced plans for a future organization dedicated to assisting student entrepreneurs in transforming their ideas into real businesses — the FSU Innovation Foundation.

“I think any program that supports entrepreneurship is great but, people have to want it for themselves,” Rogers said. “If a student has the mindset, then this will be helpful, but it’s a long and tough journey.”

The ultimate goals of this initiative are to remove obstacles students typically encounter while starting a business and to establish Florida State as an entrepreneurial university.

“It’s very ambitious and it really can change the face of FSU,” said Dr. Randy Blass, director of The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business.

Due to the fact that President Barron was unable to comment for scheduling reasons, precise details of how the foundation will function or when its implementation will commence is not known; however, what is known is that there will be entrepreneurial residents hired for each of the colleges on campus who will serve as “go-to” people for business advice.

Blass foresees a bright future for the fresh entrepreneurial initiative Barron is embarking upon, along with many other Florida State faculty members.

“Not a lot of universities have Innovation Foundations, so we’re leading into that,” said Caryn Beck-Dudley Dean of the College of Business “It is an asset because what you usually hear about students is that they’re making businesses in their garage, or their home, or their dorm rooms, but this allows them to have a more formal place to do that it allows them to get a jump start on what their business can be.”

The Innovation Foundation is projected to be a sort of one-stop shop that will provide legal advice and aid student entrepreneurs to delve into more technical issues that they may not have thought about before such as licensing and permitting.

Students of all disciplines will be able to gain a structure where they can put their start-up businesses, which are generally quite small and usually very risky. The foundation will appoint people from their respective discipline to aid with their expertise.

And contrary to popular belief, being a student entrepreneur does not require a student to be a business major.

“Every discipline on campus has potential to produce entrepreneurial students,” Blass said. “Over time we’re working on answering that need, answering that call and provide expertise within the discipline so that it’s not just business people saying ‘here’s how you run your business,’ but people who come from the business side of that college’s academic discipline.”

Innovation Foundation is striving to break the mold by allowing students of all majors to participate and develop their entrepreneurial endeavors or innovations that they never thought possible before. Within five years it is predicted to give Florida State a whole new perspective on business.

“Imagine a time when all 40,000-plus FSU students are given the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship in a manner similar to how they are already exposed to history, science and mathematics,” Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives Dr. Michael Hartline said. “The goal is for all students, regardless of major, to have access to entrepreneurship training and funding for their business ideas.”

While faculty members may believe this initiative will create more entrepreneurs at Florida State, some students are on the fence about the success of the program—it almost sounds too good to be true.

FSU accounting and finance major Adam Clayman believes that a program like the Innovation Foundation will be great for the entrepreneurial community at Florida State.

“There are a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs that aren’t familiar with the legal issues entrepreneurs face, and this program could make the information known,” Clayman said. “If students are more aware of the technicalities faced when opening a business, they will be more prepared to start a successful business, which can benefit our university with student entrepreneurship.”

Source: FSU News

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