Events will be held at the University and at popular locations in downtown Chapel Hill, and include keynote addresses from the founders of iContact, Global Giving and Girls on the Run (all UNC-CH alumni), panels on a variety of entrepreneurial topics, and plenty of networking events. Organizers of the event report that more than 500 tickets have been reserved, in total, for the week's events, and that they expect to see more than 1,000 people participate in some capacity.
The CED Team recently caught up with Mathilde Verdier, the coordinator of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Verdier filled us in on all of the events occurring next week. Interview follows...
CED Team: What’s the purpose of UNC-CH Global Entrepreneurship Week?
Verdier: A pan-university effort, Global Entrepreneurship Week at UNC will be a weeklong series of events reaching across all disciplines and professional schools at both undergraduate and graduate levels aiming to inspire students to explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. It will increase awareness of entrepreneurship activities on and off campus and connect students to resources, knowledge, and relationships that can accelerate their growth and impact as entrepreneurs.
CED Team: Who can/should attend these events?
Verdier: Whether studying the arts, sciences, public health, business, journalism, international affairs, social work, environmental studies, or computer science, whichever the discipline may be, there is something for every student, at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Faculty and staff are also welcome and encouraged to participate and entrepreneurs in the community, students from other universities in the Triangle, and UNC Alumni are all invited to attend.
If you can only attend one session, I would recommend Wednesday's event, "How Entrepreneurship Can Save Our Planet" featuring Tom Szaky, Founder of Terracycle. in 2006, Terracycle was named "The Coolest Startup in America" and Szaky was named the "#1 CEO in America Under 30".
CED Team: Tell me more about UNC’s programs for those with an entrepreneurial bent – how would a member of the community become involved? How do students (grad and undergrad) become involved?
Verdier: The best place to learn about this would be to attend the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Resource Fair during GEW entitled "Where Do You Plug In Entrepreneurship at UNC And Beyond?" All of the resources on campus as well as key partners off campus will be pitching to student entrepreneurs and sharing how their organization can help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.
CED Team: What’s the current state of entrepreneurship at UNC-CH and in the Triangle?
Verdier: In my work at UNC-CH, I have witnessed an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is thriving. We know that we now need to help students navigate the resources so that they can gain the knowledge, networks, and capital they need to grow their ideas.
The word "entrepreneur" is all about making things happen and thinking about how to make the world a better place. Across the country, college students no longer believe that they will spend their careers in one place. Student needs are changing. Whether considering starting an enterprise or innovating within an organization, students are eager to learn skills, harness resources, exercise creativity, and create sustainable solutions to the world's most pressing problems.
Looking ahead at their future, they hope to pursue their passions, pave their own paths, and leave a footprint in the world. As Judith Cone, the Special Assistant to the Chancellor on innovation and entrepreneurship has said: "Even if not all students aspire to be entrepreneurs, the world in our time is never static; it is always being re-invented. Increasingly, students need to have an entrepreneurial mindset, aware of the possibility of entrepreneurship as a choice at some point in their careers, and know how to engage with the process."
CED Team: What will participants learn from GEW that can be applied to entrepreneurship in the Triangle?
Verdier: We have intentionally created themes throughout the week. We did this to reach students across many disciplines, and engage those who study health, the environment, the arts, women's rights, education, economic development, international studies, technology. The hope is that by doing this, we'll reach students who may not have considered entrepreneurship as an option or who may have played with the idea but are unsure about the pathway to creating a company.
I am fascinated by the idea that with technology solutions, we can come up with innovative, rapid solutions to global problems and connect the Triangle to partners nationally and globally together to address these problems that are becoming more and more similar wherever we may live in the world.
All events are open to the general public - more information is available online.