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$1 Million Lilly Endowment Grant to Encourage Entrepreneurial Spirit, Empower Graduates to be Indiana Job Creators

December 9, 2013

RISE - Students Exchanging Ideas
Exchanging Entrepreneurial Ideas: Students recently took advantage of opportunities to meet successful entrepreneurs on campus during a Rose Startup Workshop, organized by the Rose Innovative Student Entrepreneurs student group.

Rose-Hulman received a $1 million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant to instill in students an entrepreneurial mindset and to provide them with the knowledge, skills, and experiences for them to enter the innovation economy.

For more than a decade through its Initiative to Promote Opportunities Through Educational Collaborations, the Endowment has awarded grants to Indiana colleges and universities to pursue activities that improve the job prospects of college graduates in the state. Funding from this initiative has supported Rose-Hulman’s successful Entrepreneurial Intern Program (EIP), which has helped students receive internship opportunities with small Indiana companies to gain some exposure to Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

A key goal of Rose-Hulman’s Strategic Plan, President James C. Conwell, PhD, PE, points out, is to “give students a vision of the breadth of their possible futures and to prepare them to achieve these futures.”

"We share the Endowment’s interest in creating opportunities for students to see and achieve their futures within Indiana,” says Conwell. “We want to encourage all Rose-Hulman students to think of Indiana as a land of opportunity. At the same time, Rose-Hulman wants to contribute to make Indianapolis and Indiana a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship activities.”

The latest Lilly Endowment Inc. grant will support the establishment of an advanced technical entrepreneurship program that instills in Rose-Hulman students an entrepreneurial mindset and an awareness of Indiana as a place of opportunity.

The program will create an innovative entrepreneurial living and learning community for up to 50 freshmen each year. This student group will live in the same residence hall and will take several courses focused on entrepreneurship. The program will impact the entire Rose-Hulman student body by making more upper-level technical entrepreneurship courses available and through support for co-curricular activities, such as the student entrepreneurial club.

Also, EIP will be continued and enhanced by increasing collaborations with entrepreneurs around the state and partnerships with Rose-Hulman alumni, local communities, Indiana businesses, and other educational institutions.

The program has short-term and long-term benefits, according to Phillip J. Cornwell, PhD, vice president for academic affairs. In the short term, the internship program will result in more Rose-Hulman students finding meaningful employment in Indiana immediately upon graduation. Meanwhile, in the long term, Rose-Hulman officials anticipate the program will result in the creation of high-skill jobs that will employ Indiana college graduates.

“The goal is to inspire and prepare more Rose-Hulman graduates to become entrepreneurs, creating innovative high-tech companies and long-term employment opportunities for Rose-Hulman graduates and graduates from other Indiana universities,” says Cornwell.

A recent survey of Rose-Hulman alumni from the past 20 years revealed that 31 percent of the 368 respondents reported launching a company at some point in their careers. That’s a 10 percent increase over a similar alumni survey in 2010.

Businesses launched by Rose-Hulman alumni typically support Indiana’s core economic development strategies -- concentrating in high value-added areas, such as sophisticated manufacturing or service industries.