Council creates new committee on entrepreneurship
StudCo echoes student interest, proposes approving Entrepreneurship, Innovations group’s formal creation
The University may soon see an increase in entrepreneurship on Grounds should Student Council formally approve a new committee that aims to foster networking and collaboration among innovators.
Council proposed a resolution at its representative body meeting Tuesday evening to introduce the Entrepreneurship and Innovations Committee into Council’s Presidential Cabinet.
Council members proposed the committee last November when they noticed an increasing number of students were interested in entrepreneurship, and they thought a network for potential entrepreneurs and innovators would be beneficial to the University.
“The idea was that there was a huge entrepreneurial surge around the University and we noticed that a lot of different organizations were struggling to work together,” said Siddartha Pailla, the Council Chair of the new committee.
The committee has been unofficially acting since last spring, but it will not officially become a part of the Presidential Cabinet until the resolution is approved next Tuesday, Council President Johnny Vroom said.
“Whenever we develop these new committees, we like to give it a trial run over the semester and then recognize it as a committee the next fall,” Vroom said. “It wasn’t an officially recognized committee, but we still recruited people [for it] as if it was a real committee.”
With the budding entrepreneurship at the University, Pailla said the committee will work to improve collaboration, communication and mentorship to maximize students’ use of University resources. Pailla and other committee members will work to improve communication between the different groups on Grounds by centralizing information about commercial innovation and sponsoring networking events on Grounds.
“Since we have access to all schools under one roof here, we thought it would be a great public service,” he said.
The committee recently received a $22,000 Jefferson Trust grant intended to increase awareness of its events. In this vein, the committee will hold a public event at Alumni Hall Monday to bring together entrepreneurship organizations from the Charlottesville community with students and other attendees.
Results from Council’s most recent “Penny for Your Thoughts” survey, a regular poll of University students’ opinions on Council activity, indicate nearly 80 percent of respondents showed interest in entrepreneurship-related activities, according to the resolution.
The resolution also commended the U.S. Department of Commerce for last week awarding the University, Virginia Tech and a nonprofit research institute a $1 million grant meant to increase entrepreneurial activity at the two universities.
Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced the award at a press conference last Wednesday in the Rotunda dome room. The grant was the result of President Barack Obama’s i6 Challenge to use innovative activity among colleges, universities, businesses and other organizations to establish new business prototypes.