Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Univeristy

History of Entrepreneurship at CMU

Carnegie Mellon University has a rich history of entrepreneurship. Below, we highlight milestones in the university’s history that led to the creation of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship in 2015.

1971: The Tepper School of Business was one of the first schools in the world to offer entrepreneurship education. Jack Thorne and Dick Cyert, later the president of CMU, spearheaded the initiative.

1989: The Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship (DJC) was established with a transformational $1 million gift, with the mission to serve the Carnegie Mellon campus. The DJC was positioned on campus as the epicenter of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology. Academic courses and programs tie in across the campus’ variety of science and arts programs.

1993: Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation (CTTEC) is founded. CTTEC is responsible for facilitating and accelerating the movement of research and technology out of the university and into the marketplace.

1994: The Jones Center begins offering non-credit entrepreneurial education programs for area entrepreneurs looking to commercialize technology, grow a company beyond the startup phase or acquire another venture.

2003: The McGinnis Venture Competition is established with the help of an endowment by Gerald H. McGinnis, founder of Respironics, Inc. — now Phillips Respironics. The business plan competition promotes entrepreneurship through technology and includes funding for competition winners.

2005: Carnegie Mellon University’s Collaborative Innovation Center (CIC) opens. The CIC houses some of the biggest names in corporate innovation, such as Google, Apple and the Intel Research Lab-Pittsburgh. The CIC provides opportunities for students looking to pursue entrepreneurship in partnership with mature companies. Disney and Microsoft facilities are also adjacent to the CIC and campus.

2006: The James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows Program, named for Jim Swartz founder of Accel Partners, is established. The Swartz Fellows Program is geared toward MBA students who have a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation. This program focuses on the experiential side of developing future entrepreneurial leaders. Alumni around the country mentor students in the Swartz Fellows Program.

2007: Project Olympus, a Carnegie Mellon innovation center, is founded. Project Olympus operates at the earliest stages of the value creation chain. Olympus provides startup advice, micro-grants, incubator space and connections for faculty, alumni and students across campus with the wider regional, national and global business communities.

2007: The Jones Center founds the first entrepreneurship and innovation program in the Middle East with support from the Qatar Foundation and its Qatar Science and Technology Park.

2007: The Silicon Valley trek program begins. This program was initiated to give students in Tepper invaluable exposure to entrepreneurs on the West Coast. 

2012: The Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is created to strengthen and serve the already bustling culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at Carnegie Mellon, and to accelerate the commercialization of university research and innovative ideas. The CIE helped unite entrepreneurship programs across campus, including the Don Jones Center and Project Olympus, under an umbrella of opportunities across campus, which was made possible by a generous gift from the McCune Foundation.

2015:  The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship is announced. The Swartz Center was made possible by a transformational $31 million gift from alumnus and venture capitalist James R. Swartz.

2017: Corporate Startup Lab, a Swartz Center Initiative, is launched with the mission of researching and promoting transformative innovation within corporations.

2018: The VentureBridge Summer Accelerator receives a generous gift of $1.5 million from the Robert and Kathleen Dobkin Intuitive Foundation. This program is exclusively focused on helping Carnegie Mellon alumni founders succeed in their entrepreneurial ventures.

2021: CMU VentureBridge Summer Accelerator program expands from San Francisco to include New York as well.

2021: Swartz Center launches the Patron Program. This program helps patrons impact the success of CMU’s most promising ventures, while gaining widespread visibility and recognition within the worldwide CMU community and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

2021: The Strength in Numbers DEI Outreach Program is created to support women and minority family-owned businesses. This program would transition into the joint Tepper School of Business / Swartz Center Family Business program launching in Fall 2022.