Guest post by Connie Bourassa-Shaw, Director of the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington Foster School of Business
You know this story: an entrepreneur with a vision, a ridiculously small but adept team, a set of core advisors who are devoted to the cause, initial customers who come on board early and stay loyal, gaining traction, finding investors, creating products/services—and enormous fun along the way.
No, I’m not talking about a UW student start-up or any other start-up for that matter. I’m talking about CIE and the vision we developed back in 1997 for creating an entrepreneurship center that not only teaches the essentials of entrepreneurship, but gives students myriad opportunities to follow their passion. Not that long ago, CIE was a start-up.
We developed the core curriculum and added electives that built on that core. We launched the Business Plan Competition in 1998, and we’ve awarded $1.3 million in seed funding to student-led companies, including NanoString, Contour, Gravity Payments, Cadence Biomedical, Impel NeuroPharma, JoeyBra, PatientStream, MicroGreen, etc. We started the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program for incoming freshmen in 2007, began the Environmental Innovation Challenge in 2008, and the Jones Milestones/Foster Accelerator in 2010.
In those early days of creating an entrepreneurship center, I got tremendous assistance and guidance from the CIE Advisory Board, including sage personal advice from Artie Buerk. Artie’s a Husky—practical but not dogmatic, enthusiastic but perceptive. And today the Foster School of Business announced that with a $5.2 million gift, CIE is becoming the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.
Naming gifts are the Holy Grail for university centers. It’s the longed-for vote of confidence. It says, I so believe in you that I’m proud to have my name associated with you for decades to come. It says, I’m betting money on your future. It says, I trust the center to do the right thing for students, for the UW, for Seattle.
I just wish you all could see the GIGANTIC smile on my face today. Thank you, Artie, for your belief in the CIE vision. No, I mean, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship vision.