Universities Provide Platform to Advance Entrepreneurship On Campus, In Local Communities

Melissa Bradley | November 15, 2016
Photo Credit: American University


Universities represent a significant opportunity to help advance entrepreneurship, and not just for its students. Providing space, funding, access to mentors and/or expertise inside and outside of class, including students and community business leaders – universities have the opportunity to help emerging entrepreneurs learn, fail fast and iterate toward success.

This year we launched the American University Center for Innovation in the Capital. Our mission is to develop and leverage innovation and entrepreneurship through training, application and research. We recognize that the significant human and intellectual capital that resides on college campuses can be leveraged to engage community residents and businesses to help them move from aspiration to investment. By expanding our reach beyond students, we have expanded our focus, programs and impact.

In April we launched a partnership with the Deputy Mayor of Washington, D.C., to support up to 500 diverse entrepreneurs in D.C. for three years. Through this partnership, we have been able to increase the number of entrepreneurs we serve, leverage the intellect and research of professors on campus and in the community, engage community and alumni leaders as mentors and speakers, as well as provide experiential opportunities for our students through placement as consultants to local entrepreneurs and investment fellows in local financial services firms.

During GEW, we recognize that not all students will become entrepreneurs; however, regardless of their career choice, they will more than likely be part of an innovation ecosystem. Their ability to be successful will be contingent on how they apply their academic skills to real life situations. This year we are committed to providing diverse entrepreneurs and opportunities for our students and stakeholders to engage with during GEW. We are intentional in correlating the interest of our students – in entertainment and biotech – with both entrepreneurial and experiential opportunities in these sectors. More info can be found at

Universities are a platform to help students and nearby stakeholders find their path and provide meaningful and engaging opportunities to think about the future of business and entrepreneurship. Committing to help stakeholders – on and off campus – is a great way for Universities to create connections and value in the communities they reside and serve.

Melissa Bradley
Melissa L. Bradley is the Director of the AU Center for Innovation in the Capital and Executive in Residence at the Kogod School of Business.