PORTLAND, Ore. - A new program designed to increase entrepreneurial activity and stimulate job creation in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest is now being offered in Portland by Oregon State University's College of Business.
The goal of Launch Corps is to provide additional startup support services for select students who are enrolled in the college's Innovation Management MBA program and are also developing a business idea. Innovation Management is a new track in the college's MBA program that prepares students to start new companies and advance ideas within existing ones.
"Research shows rates of entrepreneurship are in a state of decline in the U.S.," said Mitzi Montoya, dean of OSU's College of Business. "That's concerning news, especially given reports that indicate entrepreneurs are responsible for nearly all net new job creation. Oregon has unprecedented potential to address our regional and national need for entrepreneurial activity if we can effectively recruit entrepreneurs from the full pool of available talent and accelerate their success."
As they progress through the Innovation Management MBA, students in Launch Corps will be connected to resources that can help move their startup ideas forward. Those resources include mentors in areas such as marketing, accounting and finance; office space at the college's new Portland headquarters at WeWork, a co-working community for multiple ventures and startups; services, equipment and related amenities; and access to workshops and entrepreneurial training programs.
Launch Corps is open to all founders, co-founders or teams at the startup stage who have a passion for addressing a problem and an idea that offers market potential. Women, people of color, and others who have historically been underrepresented among entrepreneurs are particularly encouraged to apply for Launch Corps.
"Research shows that women lead about one-third of entrepreneurial activity, even though they make up slightly more than half of the population," said Audrey Iffert-Saleem, executive director of strategic initiatives for the College of Business. "Our vision is that the population of entrepreneurs will grow to reflect the changing demographics of the United States."
Supporting these entrepreneurs in their startup journey is about more than getting them in the pipeline, said Iffert-Saleem, who has led the development of several entrepreneurship programs for women and people of color.
"A recent report shows that only a tiny fraction of one percent of venture funding went to black women founders in 2014," she said. "We need a culture shift, and we need support from the community."
The fee for the two-year program is $5,000, and fellowships are available for selected students. The J.D. Power Launch Corps fellowships cover the costs of the program as well as a $2,000 business start-up grant and an $8,000 tuition scholarship.
All Launch Corps applicants will be considered for the fellowship, and priority will be given to women applicants. The program will begin in the fall term, and the deadline to apply for the fall MBA program is Aug. 22.
The college also is seeking mentors and startup coaches to support Launch Corps members, especially women and people of color who are entrepreneurs, investors and business professionals.
For more information about Launch Corps or to apply to the program, visit business.oregonstate.edu/launchcorps.
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