Last fall, Carnegie Mellon’s administration and Board of Trustees created the new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) to strengthen an already bustling culture of innovation and to accelerate the commercialization of university research and innovative ideas. In synergistically combining the proven strengths and resources of Project Olympus of the School of Computer Science with those of the Don Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School of Business, our Center brings together a broad range of educational and experiential activities focused on innovation and entrepreneurship-a "one-stop shop" for CMU faculty, students, staff, and alumni.
Being centralized allows us to help our constituents to plug into the innovation ecosystem. Moreover, the partnership between Project Olympus and the Don Jones Center facilitates better coordination and connections among individuals with scientific and technical expertise and those with business acumen and training. Finally, the faculty Co-directors Lenore Blum, Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Founding Director of Project Olympus, and David Mawhinney, Executive Director of the Don Jones Center, are closest to the faculty research emerging from Carnegie Mellon and to the entrepreneurship on campus, a position that makes Blum and Mawhinney the ideal leaders for directing projects and responding to campus needs.
Our mission is threefold:
Through its efforts, the CIE will continue to promote relationships within the entrepreneurial community and allow Carnegie Mellon entrepreneurs to shine.
The final round of the McGinnis Venture Competition culminated on March 22nd. This year McGinnis was a three-round, five-month competition focusing exclusively on CMU students, giving student innovators and entrepreneurs from across CMU the opportunity to compete for $60,000 in cash prizes. Our judges had the difficult task of narrowing down the 38 teams that participated. From the 38 the final round judges— Michael Baum, Alicia McGinnis, Rich Lunak, David Kalson, Ed Engler, Steve Robinson, Roger Byford, Jeremy Garvey and Ari Rabban—narrowed down the final nine teams to three.
Three victorious teams shared the cash prizes. Congratulations go to:
Project Olympus hosted its 17th Show & Tell on Thursday, April 18th. These events are hugely popular venues for providing a window into the many exciting developments on campus and for connecting students and faculty with the wider business and entrepreneurial community.
This spring’s Show & Tell, in conjunction with CMU’s Spring Carnival, gave students, faculty, alumni, and other CMU affiliates the chance to show off their latest innovations. Faculty entrepreneurs presented ideas focusing on energy research. Jay Whitacre, associate professor of materials science and engineering and engineering and public policy, discussed new ideas for energy storage using innovative materials, while Zico Kolter, assistant professor of computer science, considered how machine learning could help.
Among the highlights are the Project Olympus PROBEs:
Closing the Show & Tell was CMU alumna Shanna Tellerman (BFA ’03, ETC ’05), founder and former CEO of Wild Pockets and current entrepreneur-in-residence at Illuminate Ventures, who gave an inspiring account of her experiences in the entrepreneurial world.
Project Olympus selected five PROBE Projects to each receive a $3,000 micro-grant from the Spark Grant Fund, a fund that helps students kick-start their business ideas. This grant is supported by charitable gifts from alumni and other community donors.
Congratulations to our winners:
Since January 2007, Project Olympus has worked with over 150 student teams and over 500 undergraduate, masters, and PhD students from across campus. These students’ business ideas range across multiple domains such as robotics, medical devices, energy solutions, smart phone apps, and sustainable social enterprises.
Want to become a shaping force in a student’s life? Become a donor [.pdf]. Donors play a vital role in helping Olympus evaluate the students’ applications and make award decisions. For more information contact Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Kit Needham.
As a young entrepreneur, Steve Martocci has gained confidence through his programming, allowing him to become the co-founder and creator of GroupMe, a mobile group messaging app. Learn more about Steve’s career and his advice to young entrepreneurs. Read more