There’s relatively constant chatter these days about regional entrepreneurial ecosystems. Cities and regions know they need to be more innovative, need to facilitate startup development and need to provide the infrastructure and tax codes that help new businesses launch, grow and stay. A big part of those regional efforts involve universities and their increasing attention paid to entrepreneurial skills development along with providing startup support capabilities in order to drive more innovation and entrepreneurial success.
We are fortunate to have many great universities in the Philadelphia region who are increasingly focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. In early 2015, a number of us who run university-based entrepreneurship centers and programs got together to talk about potential collaboration. While we compete for potential students, once they are at our respective schools it’s all about helping students in what ever way we can to ensure they have access to the best resources they can when working on new ideas and launching new ventures. So we set out to build a consortium and called it the Philadelphia Regional Entrepreneurship Education Consortium.
One of the early ideas that bubbled up was that of a regional student competition. Fortunately, with the help and support of funding from StartupPHL’s Call for Ideas Grant, the Consortium was able to develop and run the inaugural College Pitch Philly. The goal of the program was to increase collaboration among local university entrepreneurship programs and students and to give participating students a way to present their ideas to a larger entrepreneurship community beyond their university.
By all accounts, we were successful. The program included great ideas, great sponsors and a great set of judges who all came together one evening in February 2016 to hear from over 30 student startups. Three finalists were selected and they received prize money that was only possible because of StartupPHL and the Ideas Grant.
The Consortium is continuing to develop programs that provide Philadelphia-area college students with the opportunity to build new relationships across schools and to give them more ways to participate in a vibrant startup ecosystem. Our next program will be the second College Pitch Philly event that will be held during the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference in mid-January. Students from across the region will have the opportunity to showcase their startup ideas to over 500 entrepreneurship educators from across the country. No doubt the attendees will come away with a great perspective of the Philadelphia region and the ways we are building a great entrepreneurial ecosystem through programs such as StartupPHL.