CMU merges Project Olympus, Don Jones Center - CTTEC - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CMU merges Project Olympus, Don Jones Center

After months of quiet talks it’s finally official. Two of Carnegie Mellon University’s entrepreneurship programs are merging.

Project Olympus, which is housed in the school of computer science, and the Don Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, which is part of the Tepper School of Business, are coming together to create the Carnegie Mellon University for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

It makes sense.

The two groups both encourage students, and faculty, to pursue commercialization of research and projects. Under the same umbrella the two organizations can better serve the entire school and not just pockets.

“We have always worked with each other’s students,” said Lenore Blum, co-director of the new center before outlining the three main goals of the new entity. This new center is also in the market for a naming sponsor if anyone is interested, but in the meantime, Blum said it is focusing on grant applications for funding.

The center aims to:

  • Make CMU a destination of choice for students and faculty interested in entrepreneurship.
  • Create successful ventures based on the cutting-edge research happening on campus. This “inside-out” mentality is meant to ensure the region and the country benefit from all the research dollars being poured into the university.
  • Develop a robust network alumni entrepreneurs to effectively bring talent back to the region as mentors, investors or contacts.

The center will also work closely with the CMU Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation, Blum said.

The other co-director of the center is Dave Mawhinney, an assistant teaching professor of entrepreneurship at the Tepper school and executive director of the Don Jones Center.

“We are both still professors in our schools, but we are bringing the tech and the business disciplines together to collaborate,” he said.

In addition to Blum and Mawhinney the new center will be governed by a council of deans that includes Randy Bryant from the School of Computer Science and Robert Dammon from the Tepper School of Business and will be led by Provost Mark Kamlet. An advisory board is also being formed.

The new center will also continue to operate the Project Olympus incubator space on Henry Street near campus, Blum said. She noted the space for students to test out their ideas has been instrumental in building the startup community at CMU.

When she started Project Olympus six years ago, Blum said one of the things that struck her was that CMU was training great students and then exporting them everywhere but here.

“I asked them why they were leaving and they told me if they went to Silicon Valley they could get funding and through those funders they would have the contacts and they could try new ideas,” without a fear of failure, she said.

Through Project Olympus she wanted the students to have the freedom to try and the ability to make important connections here, so they would be less likely to pick up and leave.


Article courtesy of Pittsburgh Business Times