'Launching' the future

March 19, 2013

The Hankamer School of Business has long partnered with other schools within the university to provide students with interdisciplinary engaged learning opportunities. The Technology Entrepreneurship Initiative, for example, not only offers courses in technology for business and engineering students but extends that learning abroad with real-world consulting experiences in China through the Immersion Into International Interdisciplinary Innovation (i5) technology entrepreneurship program.

"Our educational mission to students is to provide the context and atmosphere for experiential, reality-based learning," says Dr. Greg Leman, founder of i5 and director of Launch, Baylor's Innovative Business Accelerator, a joint venture of the business school and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. "We're creating junior consulting teams to help companies commercialize their products quicker and on target, helping them assess and strategize."

New opportunities for real-world learning abound with the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), which will house Launch. As startup and established hi-tech companies move into the 300,000-square-foot center, students will provide business, science, legal and technical services to them. That includes everything from accounting to intellectual property law to international market development. "This combination of opportunities doesn't exist anywhere else, especially at the undergraduate level," adds Leman.

Baylor Launch leaders are also developing a new executive education program that re-defines executive education as we know it.

The days of companies sending their rising leaders to a university to take theory courses are over, says Leman. "Today, business education is reality-based learning; business leaders take their work with them to [an executive education course] to get help with specific projects," he says. "So we won't develop courses for everything. We're focusing on specific courses that will impact people's ability to innovate, especially for medium and small companies, where our expertise is. And we're building into each course a measured assessment of the leader's competency to execute.

"Our goal for Launch," adds Leman, "is to emerge as a source of assistance for accelerating innovation and demonstrate that we're an incredible resource for the community, especially with the BRIC."