Entrepreneurship is embedded in the Cornell culture. A recent Cornell survey of alumni and faculty identified a significant amount of entrepreneurial activity. Almost 30 percent of those who responded reported they founded or co-founded more than 9,700 companies. More than 2,600 of these companies were founded since 2006, raising over $10.6 billion in funding, securing 2,000-plus patents and employing about 35,000 people. In addition, alumni and faculty angel and venture investors reported they funded more than 9,000 companies. More than 350 of these went public and more than 500 were acquired for more than $100 million. Since the sample was limited, the actual entrepreneurial impact of Cornell alumni and faculty is likely even higher.
Cornell's entrepreneurship programs engage about 10,000 students, faculty and alumni each year in courses, workshops, meet-ups and incubators. How does Cornell cultivate entrepreneurship? Here are some of the many ways:
Entrepreneurship@Cornell The clearinghouse for all things entrepreneurial at Cornell, this university-wide program works with all campus schools, colleges, and organizations to help create and promote entrepreneurship education, events, commercialization, and experiential learning opportunities. The Cornell Entrepreneur in Residence, eship magazine, and the annual E@C Celebration conference are among E@C's many activities.
Student Agencies, Inc. The nation's oldest student run corporation (and the template for others) began as a laundry business in 1894. Today it's the second largest employer of students in the Ithaca area, after Cornell itself. Its seven constituent companies (engaged in everything from summer storage to campus marketing to business-plan development) generate $2 million in annual revenues, and pay out $200,000 to more than 200 undergraduate workers.
eLab This student business incubator has worked with 26 concept teams, developing businesses such as DANI, which manufactures and markets wireless connected health devices and mobile applications offering real-time customizable nutrition information; and Wearever You Go, an online marketplace integrated within a niche social network for high-end leisure and business travelers, clothing retailers, and travel experts.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute This Johnson School of Management institute aims to foster three critical components of entrepreneurship and innovation: knowledge (through research and experiential learning), networking (through outreach and events) and opportunity (through hands on experience with real world startups and commercialization initiatives). The institute's hands on opportunities include the BR Startup Suite, a set of entirely student-run services that comes close to being a complete how-to kit for the fledgling entrepreneur, including legal and consulting services, as well as seed capital for early-stage startups.
BR Venture Fund Operated entirely by a team of MBA students at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, this early-stage investment fund has so far provided seed capital to 11 startups. The involvement of BRV's fund managers goes beyond capital: they have been known to help entrepreneurs develop prototypes, map out marketing plans, and choose key personnel. In addition, BRV has cultivated ties with top-tier venture capital partners, helping startups gain entrée to the financial resources and relationships they will need in order to develop into enduring businesses.
Langmuir Labs This facility provides office, assembly, and wet-lab space for up to 40 startup companies. The rent they pay covers utilities, janitorial services, taxes, parking, shared conference rooms, copy facilities, a mailroom, and an employee lounge.
CornellBEST Designed to connect students with technology incubators and investors, this offshoot of the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization conducts (among other activities) workshops and “boot camps” on drug development, startups and technology management, patent- and grant-writing. CornellBEST also provides elite social networking opportunities for students interested in bio-pharmacy, nanomaterials, and angel investing.
CCTEC The Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise & Commercialization (CCTEC) is Cornell University's technology transfer office. They manage technologies for Cornell University at the main campus in Ithaca, the Weill Cornell Medical College campus in New York City, and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. Their goal is to support Cornell's land-grant mission and to promote public good by connecting Cornell technology to industry and business development efforts.
The Jung Hyun Oh Competition Sponsored by the College of Engineering, this competition challenges students to design or prototype an innovative technology based on advanced materials, demonstrating its commercial viability.
The McGovern Center Offering state-of-the-art wet labs, offices, and conference facilities for six to 10 companies, this university-sponsored incubator aims to help life scientists optimize intellectual property and patent strategies, create new businesses and venture capital investments, and generate economic growth, while easing startup costs. Each fledgling company has two years to generate outside investment and move to an independent location.
Kessler Fellows This year-long engineering-school program places third-year students in startup companies. Among their recent destinations: MakerBot Industries in Brooklyn and Neverware in Manhattan, as well as the Palo Alto Research Center, MC10 in Cambridge, Mass., and Lumium Innovations in Gujarat, India.
BOOM (Bits On Our Minds) Computing and Information Science runs this annual showcase for undergraduate and masters' students seeking to exhibit their work and demonstrate their competence in digital technology and applications to their peers and sponsoring companies.
The Big Idea Competition This annual competition provides a platform for undergraduates to tout and explain their business (or nonprofit) brainstorms, receiving feedback from a wide range of students and others.
The Cornell Business & Technology Park A 300-acre suburban office and lab community, located where the worlds of Cornell and the surrounding business community meet, currently houses 80 companies that employ more than 1,600 people.
CEN The Cornell Entrepreneur Network (CEN) is the university's alumni business network. CEN produces top-shelf events on both coasts that feature world-class alumni speakers and unique opportunities to meet potential business contacts. Since June 2001, approximately 16,000 alumni, parents, students, staff and friends have attended hundreds of events.