Inside Lundquist | Summer Term 2024

Watch the Video Introduction on YouTube

The Hub of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

To improve a process, to make something better—the fundamental human need to grow and progress—is the intrinsic motivation for both universities and entrepreneurship, making them natural partners. Entrepreneurship is also about solution-finding. At its best, those solutions can have deep impacts on the environment and society, making our experience of the world better through business. It's important work, and we don’t take the charge lightly.

That's why I'm eager to share the many ways the Lundquist College of Business and the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, under the leadership of director Jeff Sorensen, are at the heart of fast-expanding opportunities and activities for entrepreneurs—not just at the college, but at the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, as well as the entire university.

In the past few years, we have increased curricular offerings, launched a new incubator program called the Oregon Innovation Challenge, debuted on-demand consulting services by students, expanded mentoring by entrepreneurs-in-residence, invested in faculty, and much more.

Expanding Entrepreneurship: New Courses, Minors, Certificates

At the Lundquist College, we have long offered entrepreneurship concentrations and specializations to undergraduate business majors and MBA students. But we have recently expanded those curricula and courses. This past year, for instance, we enabled our accounting majors to add a concentration in entrepreneurship as well. And, we launched an entrepreneurship minor in 2017 that has blossomed over the past two years, becoming one of the UO's largest minor programs with more than 150 students.

We have taken a similar tack at the graduate level, creating a new, four-course certificate program in entrepreneurship open to all graduate students on campus but designed specifically for those in the Knight Campus. Andrew Nelson, professor of management and Randall C. Papé Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, was the architect of these courses and teaches the first course in the series, which is now required for all Knight Campus graduate students. In addition, a $2 million endowment fund will support graduate students who take these new courses, establishing the Knight Campus Cameron Innovation Fellows. These funds are part of a significant gift announced last year from the estate of Gerry and Marilyn Cameron to support entrepreneurship at the Lundquist College and Knight Campus.

In partnership with Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), we're even extending this graduate-level entrepreneurship training and certification to researchers, doctors, and potential health entrepreneurs at the state's flagship medical school in Portland. In fact, half a dozen OHSU faculty and students enrolled in and attended Nelson's course remotely, joining Knight Campus students to learn how to take their innovations from idea to startup. We hope this is just the start of many exciting possibilities for long-term collaboration with OHSU around entrepreneurship and innovation.

A New Incubator Experience

Our increasing enrollment in entrepreneurship studies and courses affirms that students are hungry for these opportunities at all levels. That's why we have also created a new model for nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship for all UO students. Envisioned and created by Sorensen in collaboration with the Oregon Entrepreneurship Group student club, the Oregon Innovation Challenge (OIC), now in its second year, is a months-long incubator for student startups that includes in-depth workshops, one-on-one mentoring, training, a peer community, a pitch competition, and even funding for top projects. This year 263 projects joined OIC, 80 made it to pitches, and 33 received a total of $175,000 in funding to take their ideas to the next level. Among those projects were students from 65 different majors, including six PhD student ventures from the Knight Campus and one team from our master's in Sports Product Management program in Portland.

Empowering Innovation On-Demand

Another new service we are offering campus is on-demand entrepreneurship consulting. Student teams supervised by our faculty and entrepreneurs-in-residence (see below) have been providing UO faculty and scientists with everything from business plan consulting to market analysis and pricing studies to help them bring their concepts to market. Not only have these projects benefited faculty and researchers in the College of Education, Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Knight Campus, but they are also providing valuable hands-on learning experiences and connections to our students.

Investing in Faculty and Research

Of course, with our growing entrepreneurship programs, we as a university and college have been making strategic investments in faculty expertise in this area—with a host of recent key hires adding to an already accomplished group of academics.

These new faculty members will not only inspire and educate students, they will advance our understanding of entrepreneurship as an economic and cultural engine. Few institutions have the depth and breadth of resources and expertise needed to dig deep and be a thought leader on the topic. We do, and we are leading the charge.

Timely research topics that our faculty are actively engaged in include how institutions can impact entrepreneurial activities (and careers) in the long run, the role of gender in entrepreneurial leadership, and even theory on human-to-non-human collaborations like artificial intelligence.


Adding to this research faculty expertise, we are also actively hiring more entrepreneurs-in-residence—experienced and successful entrepreneurs who can coach, mentor, and advise students at every step of the startup and venture launch process. Bob Mighell is one such entrepreneur-in-residence, and he has quickly become a student favorite. Another is Ann Carney who joined us this spring with a deep background in venture capital and a career committed to bettering small businesses.

We are thrilled to have Mighell and Nelson on board, and thanks to recent gifts from Dave and Nancy Petrone and the estate of Gerry and Marilyn Cameron, we will soon add additional entrepreneurs-in-residence that will enable the college to expand support for scientists, students, discoveries, and ventures affiliated with the Knight Campus, as well as others innovations and innovators across campus.

A Mountain of Opportunity

Lastly, I want to share a final tidbit highlighting our growing renown for entrepreneurship. This past November, Sorensen convened a 60-person founders' summit at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood for top student entrepreneurs across the country. Known as the v10 Summit, it introduced these highly promising students to seasoned entrepreneurs across three generations. Mid-career founders commiserated over fundraising and hiring, older luminaries shared the raw details of building billion-dollar companies, and the students brought infectious energy and optimism. Attendees described it as a "life-changing" experience. Students who met on Mt. Hood went on to build a company that became a standout in the W24 Y Combinator batch. Several attendees raised $15 million or more in the months since. Many built lasting friendships and mentorships, and one Boston-based luminary later visited Eugene and gave a talk at the Knight Campus.

With all these investments and initiatives, and many more in the works, it's only natural that the University of Oregon is quickly climbing the rankings and becoming the place where entrepreneurial ideas come to fly. Just like UO business alumnus and Olympian Devon Allen said, "You go to the University of Oregon to go to the Olympics," we are setting the stage for students to say, "You go to Lundquist to be an entrepreneur."

As usual, I look forward to talking with you more on this important topic for our students and the world.

Bruce Blonigen
Edward Maletis Dean, Lundquist College of Business
Philip H. Knight Professor of Social Science
University of Oregon