U-M’s Month of Entrepreneurship Seeks to Engage Entire Campus

The University of Michigan is attempting to bring its nationally recognized entrepreneurship efforts to the entire 43,000-member student body during its Month of Entrepreneurship, which, with events in February and March, is technically now stretching into a third month due to popular demand. It’s only the fourth time something like this has been done in the nation.

“Michigan entrepreneurs are known to change the world, so we want to give students entrepreneurial knowledge well before they get out in the world,” says Manish Parikh, president of U-M’s student body. Month of Entrepreneurship is a partnership between the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship and the student government’s eCommission, and Parikh says it has been so successful that organizers hope it will become an annual tradition.

Parikh says that to get the word out, all-campus e-mails were sent alerting students to entrepreneurial events that have included pitch competitions; the MHacks hackathon, the largest student-run hackathon ever attempted; open houses and networking events with local entrepreneurs and accelerators; and guest speakers. On Friday, the university will host TEDxUofM, and Month of Entrepreneurship will conclude on April 18 with the OptiMize showcase, where five teams with entrepreneurial ideas for solving social problems will compete for a $5,000 grand prize.

For Parikh, one of the most exciting aspects to Month of Entrepreneurship has been when students from disciplines not normally associated with entrepreneurship ask why they should care about attending any of the events, because it’s an opportunity for organizers to educate them. “Response has been terrific,” Parikh adds. “For instance, we had students in the School of Pharmacy reaching out and asking what their major has to do with entrepreneurship.”

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