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Passing the Baton, Increasing Student Exposure to the Entrepreneurial World

The Department of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin (UTCS) has embarked on an initiative to bring increased exposure of the entrepreneurial world to our students.

Austin, Texas is renowned for its interest in and support of entrepreneurial endeavors, and has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity in recent years. This is largely attributable to the prevalent "creative class" in Austin—nurtured by the Austin environment and the influence of talent, ideas and resources flowing from The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin). In May 2010, Kiplinger's named Austin the top city for business for the next decade. Demographers call Austin a "City of Ideas,"—one of a handful of American regions where a new creative class of entrepreneurs, business leaders, artists and visionaries are reshaping the model for American prosperity.

Since so many entrepreneurial ideas and start-up companies are technology based, it makes good sense for UTCS, a top-ten ranked computer science department, to support and encourage this entrepreneurial ecosystem in Austin. The UTCS entrepreneurial initiative is launching with several initial steps to provide our students the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship first-hand and to learn from successful entrepreneurs by guiding students from a variety of disciplines through the early stages of the startup experience. Students work on a real start-up company, including learning from mentors and speakers, brainstorming ideas, conducting market validation, devising business models, building prototypes, creating branding, and pitching to investors and successful entrepreneurs.

Toward this goal, UTCS is one of the supporters of 3 Day Start-up (3DS), an ongoing student entrepreneurship program that takes place over three days. And in a new initiative inspired by 3DS, UTCS along with the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the McCombs School of Business will introduce “One Semester Start-up”, a semester-long program of startup acceleration starting fall 2011. The new course will be co-taught by Joshua Baer (Entrepreneur and Director of Capital Factory), Bob Metcalfe (Director of Innovation, Cockrell School of Engineering at UT) and John Butler (Associate Director and Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Finance, Red McCombs School of Business).

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