Building an ecosystem: The Princeton Entrepreneurship Council

Thursday, Nov 9, 2017
In May 2015, Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber and then-Provost David S. Lee authorized a broad list of actions to foster “entrepreneurship the Princeton way,” defined as the initiation of transformations through risk-taking actions and value-creating organizations. In response, the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council (PEC) was formed to create new entrepreneurial initiatives and partner with existing campus organizations.
 
“Entrepreneurship at Princeton is moving at entrepreneurial speed,” said Anne-Marie Maman, executive director of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council and a member of the Class of 1984. “Since PEC’s inception, we have launched a certificate in entrepreneurship, initiated alumni engagement programs around the country, and are opening a new innovation center to provide space where early-stage companies can flourish.”
 
Engaging entrepreneurs PEC programs cultivate a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem by bringing students, alumni, faculty and community entrepreneurs together. Each quarter, a discussion series called TigerTalks in the City brings the innovative research of Princeton faculty to New York City through panel presentations and networking receptions. Another program, Office Hours in the City, connects students, faculty and early-career alumni with alumni mentors who have experience in industries and areas such as law, marketing and business development. Startup Roadshow in Silicon Valley gives Princeton-affiliated early- and growth-stage companies the opportunity to present their concepts to world-class venture capital firms. Tiger Entrepreneurs Conferences, such as one held in Boston, showcase Princeton startups, feature alumni involved in entrepreneurship and innovation, and present faculty-led discussions.
In addition to its own programming, PEC works closely with the University’s Office of Technology Licensing and Office of Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations to help faculty get their entrepreneurial endeavors off the ground.
 
Entrepreneurship education In the fall of 2016, PEC and Princeton’s Keller Center, which focuses on student entrepreneurship education, jointly launched an undergraduate certificate program in entrepreneurship. The program exposes students to different ways of understanding and building enterprises that create value by developing an informed understanding of the social and global challenges to which entrepreneurship can seek to contribute. In addition to course work, each student completes a “learning by doing” practical field experience under the guidance of alumni mentors.
 
Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund Young alumni entrepreneurs who earned their Princeton degree in the past five years are eligible to apply for support from the Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund. The program provides matching funds of up to $100,000 to promising entrepreneurs. Supported through donations from Princeton’s entrepreneurial alumni, the Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund provides ongoing alumni mentorship and education in addition to the funding.
 
The New Jersey Ecosystem The Princeton Entrepreneurship Council works with its many campus partners — including Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations, Technology Licensing, Community and Regional Affairs, Public Affairs and others — to actively engage with the regional innovation community. Through relationships with other groups in New Jersey and the region, PEC and its partners seek to cultivate collaborations that foster the open exchange of ideas, with the goal of translating these ideas into technologies that serve humanity. As momentum behind entrepreneurship at Princeton continues to grow, PEC will continue to support entrepreneurs, on campus and beyond.