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Nurturing big ideas, continued

"The Peruvian nurses would spend hours hiking up into mountain villages looking for mothers," says Braun. That's because the clinic's paper appointment slips didn't work for women who carry babies on their backs rather than purses and do hard daily labor rather than keep calendar books.

Lauren McHugh

Lauren McHugh 10, a psychology major, designed Bright Pink, a line of purses that will be distributed to women in certain African townships to deter thieves by signaling that the purses contain no cash. McHugh made it to the semifinals of this years Big Idea competition. See larger image

Dan Cohen, eLab entrepreneur in residence and a professor in the ILR School, is amazed by the huge interest of students in improving the world through innovation. "When we started, we wanted to see if there was adequate demand for this type of service," he says. "Now we are near capacity and applications keep flowing in."

He adds, "A great entrepreneur will basically build his or her own eLab through networking and intelligence to make their concept work, but we can make this process quicker and less painful."

Students are also aided by Entrepreneurship@Cornell's other offerings:

  • The Cornell Entrepreneur Network for alumni, which since 2001 has hosted more than 16,000 alumni at hundreds of events in cities across the country.
  • Three introductory entrepreneurship courses, begun in 2004, that have been consistently popular, enrolling an average of 700 students each year. In the 2009-10 academic year, 52 faculty across the campus were affiliated with the entrepreneurship program.
  • The E@C Web site, offering viewers a complete picture of entrepreneurial activities, groups, events and courses on campus.
  • The annual two-day Entrepreneurship@Cornell "Celebration" event on campus in April, bringing together more than 800 people for networking, symposia, a gala dinner and other events highlighting Cornell's spirit of entrepreneurship and honoring the Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year.
  • Though not strictly an E@C program, eClips, Cornell's video clip collection on entrepreneurship and business, which has grown to more than 14,000 titles and has an international following among educators, students and entrepreneurs.
Anuj Gupta

Anuj Gupta 11, an applied economics and management major, created Lingo Buddies, a line of stuffed animals associated with different countries and languages that teach young children phrases. Gupta made it to the semifinals of this years Big Idea competition. See larger image

  • E@C's internship program, which places more than 60 students a year with small- to mid-sized companies, helps many students make connections. Alison Ewing '10 experienced the daily life of an entrepreneur in a summer internship with Sound Reading Solutions in Ithaca, which sells software and materials to help children and adults learn to read. The experience sold Ewing on marketing as a career.

"Never in an internship had I been able to decide what projects I wanted to work on," says Ewing, a history major. At Sound Reading Solutions she not only assisted with the company's daily operations, but also created marketing materials, helped redesign its Web site, led the company into social media, created an e-mail customer contact system and even starred in a TV commercial for the company.

Providing the right environment

Cornell entrepreneurship faculty and staff say even the most savvy, natural-born entrepreneur can benefit from learning certain skills.

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