Hosted each school year by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the Innovation Challenge is a series of four entrepreneurial competitions that replicates the process of developing and pitching a winning business venture. From the opening Minute Pitch event in the fall through the high-stakes Final round in the spring, teams have the opportunity to refine and improve their business plans and messaging, and to win thousands of dollars in seed money — thanks to sponsors Ernst & Young, The Heiser Family, Norman “Bud” Robertson, Kumar Ganapathy, Jeff Glassman, Darn It! and John & Sally Burke — to help make their ideas a reality.
October 25, 2017: The Minute Pitch
The venue: Amherst Room, Campus Center
The prize: $2,500, awarded to the top three teams and the audience choice
In April, a team of five Isenberg undergraduates won first place in the annual International Business Ethics Case (IBECC) competition’s main undergraduate event. This year’s three-day competition, at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel in Boston, attracted 28 undergraduate teams from five countries. (Graduate programs also vied in their own division. An Isenberg MBA team placed second in a 90-second competition in that division.) For the main undergraduate event, each team devised its own case topic for legal, financial, and ethical dissection.
Three student-led teams won top honors at the final of the 2017-18 Innovation Challenge at the annual cross-campus entrepreneurship competition run by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at the Isenberg School of Management. The start-ups, eBiologics, Phytos Therapeutics, and Kinase, Inc., were awarded seed money of $30,000, $20,000, and $15,000, respectively, by a seven-judge panel of area business leaders.
The outpouring of female accounts of sexual misconduct in the workplace from the #MeToo movement first took hold in response to the world of Hollywood, but the problem has surfaced in almost every sphere, including the world of business. Companies that once seemed invincible have paid dearly, both in business and reputational terms—a concern for anyone with an entrepreneurial vision. Political analyst and federal anti-discrimination law expert Jennifer C. Braceras shared her knowledge on the topic in Charlie Johnson's entrepreneurship class.
Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the four-part Innovation Challenge continued with The Semifinal on Wednesday, February 28. In front of a panel of four judges, 12 student-led teams gave five-minute pitches describing their ventures and participated in a 10-minute Q&A session. The judges selected seven teams to advance to Innovation Challenge
“At the end of the day, our weight loss device is life changing,” Allurion Technologies cofounder and chief scientific officer Shantanu Gaur told students in Charlie Johnson’s Isenberg course, New Ventures. Gaur was describing his company’s Elipse intragastric balloon, which he advised, “can be placed in a lunch break without anesthesia or endoscopy.” With the [essentially] procedureless Elipse, “you lose 15 to 20% of your body weight in four months,” he said. You should view the Elipse, he added, as the centerpiece in a lifestyle strategy that emphasizes more mindful eating and exercise.
In an event brimming with emotion, friends and colleagues came together on Saturday night to celebrate the life of Isenberg’s David Lepak, who died suddenly on Thursday, December 7, at the age of 46. Lepak, the Berthiaume Endowed Chair of Business Leadership & Professor of Management, and the Management department chair, was a popular professor who had been part of the Isenberg family since 2016. Married and the father of 4 children, he was also active in the community, coaching youth soccer, and volunteering at his kids’ schools.
Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the four-part Innovation Challenge continued with The Seed Pitch on Wednesday, November 29. In front of a panel of three judges, 13 teams gave five-minute pitches of their venture ideas and participated in Q&A with the panel. With assistance from the sponsors, EY and Bud Robertson (Isenberg ’72), $15,000 in prize money was awarded to four ventures.
Professor Charles Manz's new book "Twisted Leadership" offers business leaders a new way to think about leadership and suggests how to avoid the "leadership disease" - the idea that leadership is something that resides in one person who influence lower-level workers.
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On May 25, three UMass Amherst-based startups—all recipients of advice and technical assistance from Isenberg School of Management MBA Fellows working through the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship—were among 12 monetary award recipients/graduates of the Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) Accelerator program in Springfield.
“What’s important is that you dream,” advises IBLA honoree Earl W. Stafford ’76. “Dream not only of what is possible, but of what you consider to be improbable—and go for it,” urges the Isenberg graduate. That entails “using your success to go out and help others. It is just as important to business education as accounting or finance.”
ElectroPure, a student team and developer of a water treatment/purification device for homes, schools, and other small-scale water systems, took first-place honors in the finals of the 2017 Innovation Challenge business plan competition on April 6th.
Jeff Prost-Greene ’12 is one of two Isenberg alums honored this year in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of Social Entrepreneurs. Prost-Greene is one of three founders of Up Top Acres, which owns and operates roof-top "farms" in Washington, D.C.
In February, 350 students, alumni, faculty, and staff attended the fourth annual Women of Isenberg conference, which brings together women from all career levels to talk about their unique experiences and challenges as women in business.
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