By Indira Moosai
UT’s Lowth Entrepreneurship Center has been named the 2017 NASDAQ Center of Entrepreneurial Excellence by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) in Nova Scotia on Oct. 17. NASDAQ is the second-largest stock exchange in the world.
“It’s arguably the most coveted award for entrepreneurship centers,” said Rebecca White, director of UT’s Lowth Entrepreneurship Center. “This is really the biggest one we’ve ever gotten.”
According to their website, the NASDAQ Center of Entrepreneurial Excellence award is the most prestigious award a college entrepreneurship center can receive; it is an international award, and recognizes unique achievements and efforts.
White said the center has been receiving awards and recognition every year since it opened in 2015; she believes it is because of their persistence in making the center the best it can be year after year. Last year, it received the Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation Award by GCEC. In 2012, White herself was elected president of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). However, White said this is the biggest award the center has ever received, because of the prestige of the title and NASDAQ itself.
To get chosen for this award, the judges of GCEC considered application criteria such as entrepreneurship curriculum development, national/state recognition, program quality and longevity.
“[UT] is redefining what entrepreneurship education is,” White said. “Giving students the chance to practice what they’re learning in the classroom and build real companies was seen as a unique contribution.”
Compared to other colleges, UT offered a different learning experience. “I don’t know of any other school that has anything quite like this,” White said. “The way we teach is very applied and experiential, and I think that’s where education is headed. I think we’re pioneering in that regard.”
“I think the environment that they have up there is unique and unlike anything anywhere else,” said Andrew Gilliland, a junior business information technology major who has traveled to other entrepreneurship centers. “I’ve also spoken to other professors about their entrepreneurship centers and when they go up to [the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center] they’re just like wow.”
Gilliland said the center focuses on real-world startups, rather than simply classroom learning; the location, student body, faculty, and mentors all impacted his company, iSpyPens.
Michael Joyce, sophomore entrepreneurship major and president of UT Entrepreneurs said that connections are everything in the industry; the center provides students with the opportunity to meet some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Tampa Bay area as well the United States.
“I spoke with Jamie Egasti [Former C-Suite Executive at Proctor & Gamble, Former CEO of Folgers Coffee, and Former CEO of Catalina Marketing] Benson Riseman [Co-Founder of Greendot, and pioneer of the prepaid debit card], and Chuck Papageorgiou [over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience and has worked with companies such as AT&T, and UPS]. Connections of this caliber take most business men and women years if not decades to make, and in a year and a half at UT, I can speak with all three of them in one night,” Joyce said.
Previous winners, as well as members of NASDAQ’s corporation, decide who will win the annual award. This means UT will help decide who wins it a following year.
“I have a tendency to like the up-and-coming [colleges],” White said. “I think sometimes when you’re on your way up you work a little harder, but I’d be interested in seeing them all.”
Indira Moosai can be reached at email@example.com