Certificate program, alumni outreach top entrepreneurship council’s first year

A year after adopting a blueprint for “entrepreneurship the Princeton way,” the University is launching a new certificate program and will hold the first of a series of events with alumni innovators in New York City next month.

“We have been able to accomplish a lot in 12 months, and we have a long way to go,” said Professor Mung Chiang, chair of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council (PEC), which was created last year to coordinate the University’s initiatives. “This is a marathon, and we have completed year one very effectively.”

Chiang said he has heard of “a lot of interest” in the entrepreneurship certificate program, which will be offered in collaboration with the Keller Center. Among other initiatives:

A pair of programs are designed to tap into the New York City entrepreneurial ecosystem. On Oct. 6, in the first of four TigerTalks in the city, Princeton professors and industry partners will discuss “Big Data and Little Privacy,” followed by a social hour. Faculty, students, and young alums will meet with entrepreneurs in their New York offices as part of another program.

The Alumni Entrepreneurial Fund, which offers funding and mentorship for ventures by alumni who have graduated in the last five years, has supported 18 projects in the past two years, Chiang said.

In the spring, the first students signed up for the Tiger Challenge — a co-curricular program in which students seek to tackle one of society’s “wicked problems,” as Chiang put it. The program encourages small groups of students to take a longer-term approach to a social issue. One team is developing a safer spineboard, used in cases of spinal injury; another is looking at ways to encourage self-reflection, such as journaling, among Princeton students.

In the coming year, Chiang said, the University hopes to build on the success of its first incubator space, the fully-occupied Entrepreneurial Hub at 34 Chambers St., by looking at the feasibility of a second location that would offer chemistry and biological facilities for startups. A Princeton Entrepreneurs Award also is planned.

Alumni outreach will be expanded in Silicon Valley and Boston, Chiang said. “Engaging alumni in a mentorship network will remain a top priority,” he said.