Creating a regional vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem is a key element in enabling early stage companies to succeed. Over the past six years FSI has played an important role in helping to create such an environment working with other likeminded organizations. The University of Delaware, under the leadership of President Patrick Harker (an FSI Board member), is one of those organizations.
One of the exciting new ways the University is contributing to this ecosystem is through the recently announced Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, made possible by a $3 million commitment from 1975 alumnus Charles W. Horn and his wife Patricia. The Horn Program, which is led by Dan Freeman, Director & Associate Professor of Marketing, represents an aggressive expansion of the University's support for innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Horn Program will build upon the University’s established foundation in entrepreneurial studies, which includes an undergraduate minor, venture funding competitions, and an annual University of Delaware President's Forum on Innovation & Entrepreneurship. New initiatives include launching the startup experience; relocating & expanding the Venture Development Center (VDC); developing the Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs; and creating an online resource exchange.
The heart of these initiatives is the startup experience - a new, University wide program open to all University students. Students who enroll in the startup experience will learn about entrepreneurship by working with a team to try to conceive, validate and launch a high growth potential startup. The relocation and the expansion of the VDC will provide students with a state of the art facility with space for mentoring, conferencing, socializing and working. The Diamond Challenge is a new outreach program wherein high school entrepreneurs will compete for at least $25,000 in scholarships and other prizes. The online resource exchange will provide students and community members with access to important information, subject matter experts, and other resources found to be needed by entrepreneurs to sustain their efforts and speed their progress.