Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Announcing the 1st Annual Coastal Ideas Challenge!

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Entrepreneurial News

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"Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration." -Thomas Edison
MCEI and USA are partnering with multiple organizations to create access to capital for emerging businesses. Funding resources for $500 to $5 million from our partners will be possible for qualifying companies in the region. A new Venture Capital Fund is also being developed for 2014 investments. The fund will focus on promising technologies in the Southeast U.S.

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The technology commercialization council is heavily focused on the biomedical strengths and assets that exist at USA. A new project with the Mitchell Cancer Institute to assist them in getting patents for products and processes to market is one such example that will start in the Spring of 2012. Prior experience with an “invention 2 venture” program funded by the Lemelson Foundation will form the core element of the efforts. The bio medical program is planned as a multi university partnership to leverage USA resources by using other university programs. Support for this initiative will also require helping lead creation of a venture capital fund to provide seed funding to promising technologies. Discussions with local investors and legal advisors have begun to make this a reality in the next 12 months.

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Family businesses make up the vast majority of the ownership structure of the firms in the US and the Mobile area. Specific programs to assist family firms look at the traditional topics of succession, estate planning and financial management will be a core part of the program. For this Institute however the goal is to go well past that baseline activity and look at innovative programs for: Women in Family Businesses, how to put the family back in family businesses, a new concept called the “family of family businesses”, social and psychological tensions, and exits strategies. The overall program will look at birth to exit solutions focused on balancing the family and financial elements of family business. The family business program is intended to be a major part of the entrepreneurship program and family business owner members for the Melton Center.

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The Social Enterprise Academy is working with four area non profits at the present time. The SEA is designed to create support mechanisms and resources that non profits organizations can use to fulfill their social missions. The nonprofit sector is a major training ground for entrepreneurial leaders even if they do not always recognize this role. Women, minorities and younger workers often are offered roles they never could have attained in larger companies. Fundraising, working collaboratively with volunteers, being almost forced to demonstrate their reason for being every year, and creating a network of contacts that are essential in growth are just some of the things that become part of the job. The SEA will work to develop “sustainability” plans, board of director guides, grant writing workshops, intern programs, scholarships, and job paths for entrepreneurship students to gain the experience and networks they will need to start their own businesses in the future.

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Developing a student based consulting service is an ideal way to get students hands on experiences in multiple types of businesses and to make them more attractive employees. These experiences also help them decide if and when starting their own business is attractive. The new Ben May Chair of Entrepreneurship started doing these types of consulting programs in 1972 and conducted the national evaluation of student consulting programs for the US Small Business Administration. The return to the nation, to the firms and the students is significant. Firms that receive consulting grow faster, increase profits and feel better about their business than those that do not get this assistance.

What do you want to do with your life?
Career ideas:
• Start your own venture
• Work in a design firm
• Enter a family business
• Discover sales and advertising
• Spin out a new company from a big one
• Join an economic development organization
• Contribute to a social enterprise/nonprofit
• Work in the financial/banking sectors
• Offer consulting services
• Change K-12 education leadership

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Facilitating the growth of entrepreneurial opportunities

The mission of the Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MCEI) is to inspire, innovate, integrate, and implement new ways of thinking. Education, research, and outreach that positively impact students, the regional economy, the state of Alabama, and the nation are the tools used to fulfill this mission.

The MCEI plays a leadership role in stimulating and nurturing economic development. The MCEI leverages its resources to elevate the University of South Alabama entrepreneurship and economic development programs by providing opportunities to improve entrepreneurship education, expand the university impact on the economy of the region, and raise the impact of the component programs within the Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.