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From the Classroom to the Boardroom

Student business incubation programs are in existence around the world and soon there will be such a program in Flagstaff! Schools such as Fudan University in Shanghai, China partner with incubators such as the Yangpu Science and Technology Center to foster the creation of companies around university- developed intellectual property. Springfield Community College in Springfield, Mass. has created a student incubation program involving students down to the middle school level to guide them through business creation. Such programs offer an opportunity to teach students about entrepreneurship and also serve as a way to reverse “brain drain.” Brain drain is common in communities where many youth may not be able to find adequate employment opportunities so they are forced to leave in search of gainful jobs.

The Northern Arizona Center for Emerging Technologies will launch its first student business incubation class this fall. This program represents a partnership between NACET, Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College. NACET will begin accepting applications from enrolled students from these institutions in search of the four best and brightest ideas to begin the program in early September. Selected students will each receive a $2,500 business grant to assist in the development of their company and access to a five percent interest loan pool for additional capital. These funds are provided through a donor at the Franke School of Business at NAU. Student businesses will be required to participate in the regular business incubation program at NACET, including open book accounting, mandatory monthly and quarterly benchmark reviews, monthly group tenant meetings and other requirements. Students will also have full access to the 26-member mentors group at NACET, which is comprised of attorneys, CPAs, marketing professionals and others who will provide pro bono assistance. Additionally, student companies will have access to a shared office at the incubator and conference room facilities, including video conferencing. It is hoped that student companies will grow and graduate from the student model to the full-service incubation program, or directly into the local community at the end of the 12-month program.

The student business incubator program at NACET will seek to take existing patents from NAU and find NAU graduate and undergraduate students to create companies to commercialize them. It will also seek students from CCC who are early in their education or are being retrained who have business ideas. Eligible companies can come from any business sector, with the exception of retail. So instead of being forced to find a job in Flagstaff, NACET and its partners will provide the opportunity for educated students to create one for themselves. FBN

For additional information or an application, contact Jeff Saville at 928-213-9234.

Russ Yelton is president/CEO of NACET in Flagstaff. Contact Yelton at 928-213-9234 or ryelton@nacet.org. For more information on NACET, visit www.nacet.org.

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