A lot can happen in 20 years. Especially nowadays when technological advances and innovations develop at mindboggling and sometimes frustrating rates (just cool it, Apple). At the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, 20 years has given the school time to launch and build one of the best entrepreneurship programs in the world for young, student entrepreneurs.
“Two decades ago there was virtually nothing,” concedes Stewart Thornhill, the executive director of Michigan Ross’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “When you look at the landscape of entrepreneurship education, in the late ’90s, it was pretty barren.”
This past fall, the Zell Lurie Institute, which was established in 1999 with a $10 million gift from the Zell and Lurie families, celebrated 20 years on campus at Michigan. But it wasn’t until 2015 when the Institute received a $60 million gift that the programming really took off. Now, the Institute oversees multiple funds for student and recent alumni entrepreneurs like the Zell Early Stage Fund and Zell Founders Fund and the Zell Entrepreneurs Program, which awards $10,000 as well as mentorship, support, and coworking space to student entrepreneurs.
“As a whole, we’ve gotten much better at combining resources and identifying high-potential students and shepherding them through so that they get full-advantage of every program that’s available to them,” adds Thornhill, who has been at the Zell Lurie Institute since 2013.
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