We are thrilled to announce the celebration of our 15 years as the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. This is a special occasion to acknowledge the ideas that turned into businesses, the entrepreneurs and mentors who turned into family, and the support system who made it all possible. As a member of the CCEI community, we hope you can join us for our celebratory, all-day event on Friday, December 2, 2022, as we acknowledge the past, present, and future of CCEI.
As a countdown to the actual day of the event, weekly blog posts will go out each Friday. These blogs will focus on something (or someone!) important to CCEI and to our history and community.
This week, we’d like to start off by sharing 15 CCEI-funded programs and events at UConn that we believe you should participate in (if not already!). These events and programs have sparked meaningful conversations and ideas throughout our staff and startups, and we would love nothing more than to share them with you, our audience!
So, without further ado, here's a complied list of 15 entrepreneurial events and programs we certainly believe you should try out.
1. Accelerate UConn
Accelerate UConn is UConn’s National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Site. Its mission is to catalyze entrepreneurial teams whose technology concepts are likely candidates for commercialization. With the support of Accelerate UConn, teams enroll in a five-week program to learn first-hand about entrepreneurship and explore the transition of their ideas, devices, processes or other intellectual activities into the marketplace. Teams also have the opportunity to receive up to $4,000 to support customer discovery and product development.
To learn more, please visit https://accelerate.uconn.edu/.
2. BUILD Hartford
BUILD Hartford allows students to immerse themselves within the city as they dive into entrepreneurial education and real world applications. Students network with members of the city to understand its history from personal experiences and perspectives, discover opportunities, and create projects for the development of Hartford with the use of tools provided to students through the BUILD Hartford curriculum. BUILD Hartford may be taken in the format of a 3-credit course, or as an internship.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/build-hartford/.
3. Business Consulting Accelerator
The Business Consulting Accelerator is designed to provide eligible MBA students with the support and knowledge needed to successfully launch their own business consulting firms. The program runs through the summer and fosters an environment that focuses on experiential learning, peer-to-peer mentorship, and individual skill development. Students also explore their entrepreneurial skills and develop a unique personal brand as a consultant while receiving a stipend for development costs.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/programs/business-consulting-accelerator/.
4. Entrepreneurial Bootcamp For Veterans (EBV)
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) program offers experiential training in entrepreneurship and small-business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their service to our country. Those involved go through three phases: a 30-day, online course; a 9-day residency experience at one of the eight EBV schools; 12-month support focused on business creation and growth. In the past decade, EBV has graduated 253 veterans (and caregivers) who have launched 187 businesses, producing more than $150 million in gross revenues, and creating 430 jobs.
To learn more, please visit https://ebv.business.uconn.edu/.
5. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy (EIP) Virtual Research Seminars
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy (EIP) Virtual Research Seminars fill in the gap between academia and policy application—increasing the understanding of policy issues and building a forum for expressing these ideas and a supportive community to nourish them. The EIP Seminars run throughout the year and feature many scholars who investigate technological and entrepreneurial topics.
To learn more, please visit https://sites.google.com/view/eip-website/home.
6. Family Business Program
The Family Business Program (FBP) helps family businesses adapt and thrive in today’s rapidly changing economic and business climate. Through business and family-systems programming, they help businesses prepare through innovative business strategy, organizational structure, management practices, among other important aspects. The FBP is a member-driven initiative, allowing attendees to share challenges and solutions, and learn through the CCEI network. There is an option to become a member, partner, mentor, or donor, and multiple events and workshops are held throughout the year.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/family-business-program/.
7. Get Seeded
Get Seeded provides UConn students the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a live, virtual audience, who then votes on which ideas are funded. Students that are selected to pitch have an opportunity to earn up to $1,000 in seed funding for their idea, as well as support from other students who may be interested in joining their business venture. Even if students don’t have an idea yet, or aren’t quite ready to pitch their startup idea, the pitch nights are open to the public and are a great way to network and connect. There are five pitch nights through the academic year, followed by a “Demo Day” at the end of the spring semester.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/getseeded/.
The InsurTech Initiative is a joint venture between UConn and the University of Hartford designed to grow the next generation of entrepreneurs in the insurance industry and the InsurTech space. Students learn the needs of a rapidly changing insurance industry, the emerging technologies disrupting it, and assist both startups and established companies. InsurTech is taken as a 3-credit, weekly course in the fall semester with an optional fellowship in the spring semester.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/programs/insurtech/.
9. Student Ambassadors Program
Student Ambassadors aid in the process of recruiting UConn students to participate in the programs offered at CCEI through events, social media, and in-class presentations. The Student Ambassadors Program is open to all UConn undergraduate students interested in taking on a highly interactive work-study. Student Ambassadors will also work with CCEI staff on a part-time, year-by-year basis to assist with CCEI’s needs.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/ccei-student-ambassadors/.
10. Summer Fellowship
The top 10 startups from across UConn are selected to participate in the Summer Fellowship experience, which takes place three days a week over eight weeks. Participants develop the skills needed to bring new products, services, and technologies to market through one-on-one coaching and mentorship from industry experts and entrepreneurs. Teams receive $15,000 in non-dilutive funding, and are provided with pro bono legal and accounting services to help with the initial business setup and support. Teams pursuing high-potential ventures who have formed through participation in other UConn entrepreneurship programs are encouraged to apply.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/programs/summer-fellowship/.
11. Timely Topics
Timely Topics is a podcast-style series that features panels of speakers, workshops to engage our entrepreneurs, and fireside chats with successful business leaders. These sessions, held throughout the year, are a way for CCEI to provide ongoing opportunities for students, faculty, and alumni entrepreneurs to learn, grow, and connect. Timely Topics events are free and open to the public.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/timely-topics/.
Traction supports UConn-affiliated startup ideas as they work to validate their concepts. Participants of Traction learn the key elements of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) and the lean startup methodology. Participants also engage in customer discovery efforts that will allow them to better understand the market they are entering and the value they plan to provide to key stakeholders in the process. Traction takes place both in the fall and the spring semesters, and is open to undergraduate and graduate students across all schools at UConn working on consumer product ideas.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/programs/traction/.
13. Verge Consulting
Verge Consultants are graduate students that work with CCEI and the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to support startups and small businesses as they overcome the hurdles of starting and growing their companies. Verge Consultants work together as a team to consult between 8-12 companies per summer in a variety of different industries, life cycles, challenges they face, and types of projects. Consultants receive a stipend of $7,500 for 10 weeks of consulting between May and August.
To learn more, please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/programs/verge-consulting-group/.
14. Wolff New Venture Competition
The Wolff New Venture Competition features live pitches by the five top startups coming out of UConn each year. The legwork for Wolff begins in March, where 10 startups are selected by a panel to participate in the Summer Fellowship Program. After this, the teams present their pitches to a panel of judges and the top five startups are selected to compete in the Wolff New Venture Competition. A panel of venture experts then decides which team deserves the Wolff New Venture Prize and the $25,000 winnings accompanying it.
To learn more (and see who won this year!), please visit https://ccei.uconn.edu/wolff-new-venture-competition/.
xCITE, established as a day-long conference for Connecticut Women In Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, is dedicated to bringing together women entrepreneurs and organizations from across Connecticut and beyond. xCITE recently shifted its focus towards an increased frequency of networking and mentoring opportunities, resulting in a reengineered program with an emphasis on building a committed network of women entrepreneurs. Events are held throughout the year to encourage connectivity.
To learn more, please visit https://xcite.business.uconn.edu/.