September 25, 2018 • By Aaron Orlowski
Enroll with just the grain of an idea to start a business, or to profitably grow an established organization in an inventive way. Nine months later, graduate with a plan to innovate — plus the knowledge, skills and network to do so.
That’s the premise behind the new Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship degree program created by the UCI Paul Merage School of Business. The program is the first and only one of its kind in the University of California system. Applications are currently being accepted for a fall 2019 start.
The Merage School designed this nine-month, full-time accelerated Master’s degree in close collaboration with business leaders in Orange County to ensure it provides graduates the tools and connections they need to launch successful startups or to grow at established companies by applying innovative “intrapreneurial” strategies.
Today’s competitive, digitally driven business world rewards practiced problem solvers. The Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship program educates ambitious entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to take on tough business challenges with the necessary knowledge, resources, tools, network and roadmap.
“So many entrepreneurs are deeply knowledgeable about the science, engineering or technology aspects of their ideas, but have blind spots when it comes to the business aspects,” says Imran Currim, the director of the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a UCI distinguished professor. “We fill those blind spots using cutting-edge course work, practical workshops and intensive co-curricular activities.”
“By the time they graduate, our students are able to strategically build teams and foster collaboration. They can create new markets and redefine existing ones, finance a business and grow it,” Currim adds. “They gain practical skills in budgeting, venture capital and business law. They are ready to innovate in the digital age.”
From the beginning of the program and for its entirety, students are matched with a mentor who offers guidance, advice and support, plus resources and connections with the local business community. The case-based curriculum requires students to work in teams and engage in hands-on learning in a collaborative environment, while taking startup-focused field trips to Silicon Valley, the Tech Coast and other locations in California. Students learn from each other as they solve problems together.
The courses cover essential topics, such as the process of innovation and entrepreneurship, identifying new venture opportunities, developing a business model, preparing a business plan, assembling a team, raising the necessary financing, tapping venture capital and launching a business. Beyond the classroom, students participate in co-curricular events and activities, and have direct access to a rich ecosystem of startups and established businesses across a range of industries for which UCI is the hub.
“Our focus on equipping innovators to succeed in today’s digitally driven business world is what sets us apart, and our groundbreaking new Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship program is no different. Aspiring entrepreneurs – and intrapreneurs – graduate with the tools and connections to compete,” says Merage School Dean Eric Spangenberg. “The program is the culmination of years of hard work and close collaboration with entrepreneurially-minded community supporters and business leaders across Orange County.”