The United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) has named Eastern Washington University as this year’s top emerging entrepreneurship program.
The 2020 Top Emerging Entrepreneurship Award is widely recognized among entrepreneurship educators as one of the world’s most coveted.
“This is a major international award as programs apply from around the world,” says Professor Bruce Teague, the founding director of the EWU Center for Entrepreneurship. “USASBE has long been recognized as the leading organization for entrepreneurship research and education.”
To qualify, a program must either be in its first three years of development or have gone through a major revision during the same period. Factors considered during judging included programs’ innovation, boldness and student impact. EWU competed through three rounds of evaluation to be named a finalist, ultimately beating out emerging-entrepreneurship programs at Wake Forest University, Iona College and Florida Gulf Coast University in the finals.
“Our programs and co-curricular experiences are designed to inspire students while allowing them to practice critical skills and competencies that support entrepreneurial success,” Teague says.
Teague adds that another factor that makes the EWU Entrepreneurship Program unique is its dedication to interdisciplinary program development. For instance, he worked with EWU Music Professor Jonathan Middleton to develop Eastern’s new Music and Technology Entrepreneurship Program for people interested in music industry careers.
Teague accepted the award on behalf of the school at USASBE’s annual conference in New Orleans on Jan. 6, 2020.
EWU has emerged as a daring and innovative entrepreneurship program in which students learn both inside and outside the classroom. EWU began offering both a major and a minor in entrepreneurship in fall 2016. As of fall 2019, EWU also offers a BA degree in Music and Technology Entrepreneurship. Additional specialty entrepreneurship degrees have already been proposed for fall 2020. Beyond the classroom, students have opportunities to participate in their chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization club (C-E-O), to travel to the C-E-O Global Conference, to participate in the university’s $40,000 4-Stage Startup Challenge, to work with mentors and to experience entrepreneurship on many different levels. In the past year alone, two EWU student companies have participated in the NSF I-Corp program, and two student teams competed in the C-E-O Global Pitch Competition held in Tampa, Florida.
In order to support student entrepreneurship across the campus, it was critical to develop an entrepreneurial faculty across the campus, as well. All faculty who are currently teaching entrepreneurship courses at EWU have been sent to attend “experiential classroom” training, thanks to generous grant support from the Herbert B. Jones Foundation. This program provides expert training in the development of classes where students learn through hands-on engagement.
In 2020, EWU will move the Center for Entrepreneurship into the brand new Catalyst Building—a certified zero-energy space located in the heart of Spokane’s U-District. This move will allow EWU to co-locate students from various disciplines in a building that is designed to be a living laboratory for innovation and commercialization related to the energy ecosystem. In partnership with the U-District, Catalyst will fuel an atmosphere of innovation to help attract the types of cutting-edge companies and organizations that are vital for the Inland Northwest’s next economy.