Assistant professors Katie Campbell, PhD, and Rahul Roy, PhD, were awarded a $75,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a Community of Neighboring and National Entrepreneurial Centers and Trainees (CONNECT) Network in partnership with the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship (Entrepreneurial Education Manager Maarten Rotman, PhD, is a co-PI on the grant). CONNECT will bring faculty, stakeholders and students together to share the best methods in the field of biosciences entrepreneurship through regular meetings and events.
"This funding will enable a new network to be created between undergraduate biology departments and entrepreneurial support systems across the nation," says Campbell, assistant professor of interprofessional education, director of Collaborative Undergraduate Research, and co-director for Katies for Aging Research and Equity. "The goal is to understand the entrepreneurial assets and needs of faculty, students, and entrepreneurs. This supportive community will help students see themselves as entrepreneurs and their ideas as potential inventions."
Undergraduate biology faculty and students will engage with biosciences entrepreneurs, who will share current resources. This work allows for the development of a robust data collection plan focused on integrating biosciences entrepreneurship into biology curricula, while supporting underserved students across member institutions.
"STEM students need entrepreneurial thinking early on in their biology education to be able to perceive ways to disrupt and innovate in solving biological problems and meeting needs of a changing planet," says Roy, assistant professor of biology. "Removing the barriers especially for BIPOC women will bring equity and diversity to the realm of biological entrepreneurs.
"As the first immigrant to the U.S. and the first PhD from my family, it took me a long time to understand and consider entrepreneurial thinking and innovation," he adds. "This network really helps me engage and encourage this kind of thinking for students who don't consider this aspect during their careers, especially first-gen and BIPOC students. I want students to understand that they have huge disruptive power as they build concepts and ask curious questions."