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Week of April 1, 2013

Entrepreneurship month under way at university

With the goal of getting more students “fired up” about entrepreneurship, 18 student organizations have come together to organize and celebrate a Month of Entrepreneurship at U-M.

“We want to engage every single student on campus,” said Manish Parikh, student body president and a senior at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. “It’s a bit of a lofty goal, but we hope more students will get fired up about entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs, and especially Michigan entrepreneurs, have a habit of going out and changing the world.”

The “month” is actually more like a season. Parikh said it kicked off in late February with the MHacks programming contest that turned out to be the largest event of its kind in the nation. More than 550 students from across the United States and Canada attended the 36-hour hackathon.

The Month of Entrepreneurship continued through March, with 20 events across campus. And it will go on into April by popular demand, Parikh said.

One of the upcoming events Parikh is most excited about is the optiMize social innovation challenge showcase. The optiMize contest invited multidisciplinary teams of students to submit ideas for social entrepreneurship ventures that offer creative solutions to pressing societal problems. On April 18, the top five teams will present their ideas.

Other items on the calendar include:

• Students’ wares will be on sale at the Michigan Union in a venture showcase today (April 1).

• The TechArb student business incubator will be open for tours and mingling with the current teams during an open house on April 11.

The Month of Entrepreneurship was inspired by President Obama’s proclamation of November 2012 as National Entrepreneurship Month. Parikh hopes to expand the collegiate version next year. At the same time, he’s impressed with the turnout in 2013.

“When we launched it we thought it would cause some ripples, but it has actually caused a wave,” he said.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate dean of entrepreneurial programs at the College of Engineering, agreed.

“What I love about the Month of Entrepreneurship is that it is entirely student motivated and student driven,” Zurbuchen said. “It turns out that is one of the key differentiators of Michigan Entreprenership. Michigan Entrepreneurship is student-driven entrepreneurship.”

The month was presented by the U-M Entrepreneurship Commission, a collaboration of 18 entrepreneurship-minded student organizations, and the Center for Entrepreneurship at CoE.

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“August: Osage County,” 7:30 p.m. April 4 and 11; 8 p.m. April 5, 6, 12 and 13; and 2 p.m. April 7 and 14, Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre.

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