The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center officially joined forces with Lehigh as its academic in residence partner Sept. 27.
This partnership, called Lehigh@NasdaqCenter, is a university-wide initiative. It is an in-residence collaboration, with year-round Lehigh offerings.
The new collaboration, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017, aims to help students in any discipline or major advance his or her entrepreneurial skill sets and spirit.
The Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation strives to develop a platform for Lehigh’s success in building new enterprises. Lisa Getzler, the executive director of the Baker Institute, and Lehigh President John Simon spearheaded the new collaboration with Nasdaq.
The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that aims to educate, innovate and promote interaction among aspiring and successful entrepreneurs. The center celebrated its one year anniversary last week.
Lehigh first interacted with the Nasdaq Center when its winter entrepreneurship program, LehighSiliconValley, visited during one of its days in San Francisco last year.
“When I met the Lehigh students, I was really blown away,” said Nicola Corzine, the executive director of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center. “What is unique to the Lehigh spirit is that hunger and curiosity that is difficult to teach.”
Corzine said Lehigh’s philosophy, history and heritage with entrepreneurship made the university a great choice for this collaboration.
Getzler said the partnership was mutual.
“We chose each other,” she said. “When we got together and talked about it and saw that we believed in the same things, it was very clear, very soon, that we were a natural partnership.”
Getzler said Lehigh believes innovation is at the center of success, and the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center shares that value.
The Nasdaq Center and Lehigh will share a location in San Francisco, where Lehigh@NasdaqCenter will be offering programs.
“It’s a great opportunity for us as a university to have a presence in that ecosystem,” Simon said.
Though the ideas have not yet been defined, the partnership aims to create more programs similar to Lehigh Silicon Valley, which embodies many immersive and interactive elements.
“We want to give students a portfolio of experiences that will help them be successful upon graduation,” Corzine said.
Corzine said entrepreneurial understanding could help anyone in a future career. She said the location in San Francisco is customizable and flexible, and it will continue to expand opportunities for Lehigh students.
Students will be able to use Lehigh@NasdaqCenter’s offerings and its location to connect with businesses and people in the San Francisco Bay area.
“The impact on students will largely be how we can expand their educational opportunities, internships and job access through the partnership,” Simon said.
A different business perspective on the West Coast could help students broaden their horizons in the entrepreneurship world. Getzler said there is also a strong Lehigh alumni base in San Francisco, which can allow students to expand their networks in that area.
Pat Farrell, the provost and vice president for academic affairs, said students will able to use this partnership to prepare themselves for future careers.
“I think the most obvious advantage will be exposure to what I would call a pretty different business atmosphere in the West Coast,” Farrell said.
In addition to the students’ benefit, companies and founders in San Francisco will be able to use Lehigh students’ knowledge to their advantage.
An existing program run by the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center called Milestone Makers is integrating with Lehigh. The program is a virtual accelerator for startup companies that has educated 3,000 entrepreneurs in its first year and has chosen 12 startup companies to help.
The students that are chosen for this year’s LehighSiliconValley program will work with the Milestone Makers companies to help them achieve their goals.
This program urges students to help solve real problems startups have while simultaneously educating them on internal activities inside a company and aiding the companies in various situations.
Simon said Lehigh@NasdaqCenter is geared towards any and all students at Lehigh no matter their major.
“I want everyone to feel that they can play,” he said.