LAS CRUCES – Students across the New Mexico State University system with an idea for a business now have access to an online entrepreneurship curriculum and network of expert advisers, thanks to Arrowhead Center’s Next Generation Entrepreneurship program. Known as Next Gen, the program brings Studio G, Arrowhead’s student and alumni business incubator, to NMSU’s community college campuses throughout the state.
Arrowhead Center, NMSU’s economic development engine and technology commercialization hub, received a $368,760 grant in 2016 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to expand Studio G to students at campuses in Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Grants, as well as students at Dona Ana Community College in Las Cruces.
DACC President Renay Scott said she welcomes the chance for her students to build on their entrepreneurial thinking.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to offer our students access to Arrowhead Center’s Studio G and other programs to support their entrepreneurial opportunities,” Scott said. “Our students have many experiences at DACC that lead to new ideas, scholarship and items that they wish to market. Next Gen allows students to have access to programs and experiences that will help them develop their intellectual property, develop business plans and work with others who also seek to start their own businesses.”
Studio G, which was founded in 2011, has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Since its inception, Studio G has helped more than 250 ventures involving more than 450 student entrepreneurs. An economic impact study in 2015 found that Studio G clients had an impact of $2.4 million during that fiscal year, and Studio G members have raised more than $2.5 million in investments, grants and contracts since 2013. In fiscal year 2016, Studio G ventures hired 93 paid employees.
With Next Gen funding, Arrowhead Center has already converted the effective Studio G curriculum, modeled on MIT’s Disciplined Entrepreneurship and Lean Launchpad methodologies, into an online format that uses “gamification” to engage student and alumni entrepreneurs in learning tracks that are tailored to different types of businesses and situations.
“Students at our community college campuses now have access to the very same learning system, advising opportunities and mentorship meetings as our clients at the Las Cruces campus,” said Kramer Winingham, director of Studio G and a principal investigator on the Next Gen project. “The online curriculum allows us to scale up what we can offer to students here in Las Cruces, as well as those in communities around the state.”
Three of NMSU’s four community college campuses are located in rural communities with less than 50,000 population, and those areas are also economically dependent on single industries like government enterprises and mining, so developing support systems for the next generation of entrepreneurs in those areas will be crucial for providing employment and workforce development, said Arrowhead Center Director and CEO Kathryn Hansen. It’s also the key to enhancing the commercialization of research, regional connectivity and innovation in New Mexico.
NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said the Next Gen program is one of several important ways that Arrowhead Center supports NMSU’s land-grant mission of serving the educational needs of New Mexico’s diverse population through comprehensive programs of education, research, extension education and public service.
In addition to scaling the Studio G curriculum for use at the community colleges, Next Gen funding has been used to address the challenge of matching entrepreneurs with funding and technology licensing opportunities on a broader scale. Two new web-based portals, TechMatch and FundMatch, provide a user-friendly online system to steer students toward opportunities and facilitate connections for entrepreneurs who are ready to seek funding for their projects.
With all of these systems in place, the next step is to start funneling community college students into the entrepreneurial pipeline. Each of the college campuses has selected a leader with strong connections to both the students and the local business community to champion the effort to recruit students to Studio G and build engagement with those local business networks. At DACC, that’s Joan Keeney, a college assistant professor in the Business Department.
For more information about Studio G, or to apply from any of NMSU’s system-wide campuses, visit http://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/studiog. For more information about the Next Gen Entrepreneurship program at DACC, contact Joan Keeney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Amanda Bradford, For the Sun-News