USF holds high honors for entrepreneurship

The Center for Entrepreneurship at USF beat out candidates from Georgia Tech and the University of Hawaii for the 2004 National Model Specialty Entrepreneurship Program Award.

The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, one of the prominent national organizations for entrepreneurship in the country, presented the award to Michael Fountain, director of the center, after two days of competition in Dallas last weekend. The award is one of the most prestigious in the field, Fountain said.

“This is a very big award for the university,” Fountain said. “It’s something we’ve worked long and hard for.”

It is a very big award, indeed. USF’s center hasn’t even celebrated its third birthday yet, but by taking first place in this competition, it joins the ranks of universities such as Stanford, who won the award last year. Even beating out Georgia Tech, which has had its program for over 15 years, holds a great significance for the USF center, which was competing for the award for the first time in its history.

“Georgia Tech did an exceptional job,” Fountain said. “They have a world-class program, and we were pleased just to be in the same category with them.”

USF submitted its Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Program, a joint effort between the university’s College of Business Administration, College of Engineering, and Health Sciences Center, as a candidate for the award last fall. The USASBE selected three out of almost 30 proposals to meet in Dallas to give their respective presentations before a panel of judges.

“The competition was intense and very strong,” Fountain said. “From my perspective, it helps to validate what we are doing here at USF.”

The center hopes for a similar outcome at the Kauffman/Angell Center for Entrepreneurship National Case-Writing Competition held at Wake Forest University later this month. The competition that was won by Northwestern last year, involves students presenting original teaching cases based on summer internships.

The competition, which is by invitation only, involves less than 10 schools that in the past have included Harvard and Notre Dame.

“It gives students the opportunity to compete head to head with some very strong centers,” Fountain said.