April 27, 2009

Entrepreneurship in Recession

The alarm rang at 6:58 AM on April 1st, ’09 and I quickly woke up to boot my laptop. I was trying to register for the courses offered in Fall 2009. The class for “Starting New Ventures“ got filled in less than 5 minutes. Peter Russo, who teaches this class, is an Executive-in-Residence who teaches Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Boston University School of Management. He is the Director of Entrepreneurship Programs for the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (ITEC).

The Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) provides a platform for entrepreneurship education and training to the students of Boston University. The annual ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition provides BU students and recent alumni with the opportunity to develop their business idea into a successful business plan. So young entrepreneurs receive mentoring and advice from start up veterans, as well as the opportunity to expand their network and connect with potential sources of funding. This helps the teams to connect with Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors.

The 2009 Finalists of the Business Plan Competition were the following teams: BikeNow, Novophage, Click Chemicals, and AirGO. BikeNow is a bike-sharing program which can be thought as a bicycle version of Zipcar. The students from SMG have a vision to change the way we commute in Boston. Their proposed company, BikeNow, would offer bikes (with helmets) that could be rented with a swipe card, then returned to any of 100 or more drop-off stations.

Novophage is a company that will market genetically engineered bacteriophage therapy for clinical care. Doctors have used bacteriophages since the early 20th century, but their use declined after the introduction of powerful antibiotics. Now Novophage has genetically modified a bacteriophage so that it zeroes in on a bacteria’s natural DNA repair mechanism, increasing the killing power of antibiotics and hindering the development of superbugs. The Novophage team won the 2009 ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition.

The US Government needs to understand that jobs will not be created by giving billions of dollars to General Motors or AIG but by funding entrepreneurship incubators like ITEC. Many great companies have started during recessions and this seems to be a great time to bring in some disruptive technologies to the market.
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