UNM project aims to develop entrepreneurial skills

By Albuquerque Journal/By Mike Bush/Journal Staff Writer

School launches innovation Academy

UNM on Thursday formally launched its academic counterpart to Innovate ABQ, the big Downtown venture the city, county, university and businesses are creating for start-up companies.

The academic project, called innovation Academy, is intended to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a university setting, Robert DelCampo, its director, told a group of about 80 students, faculty and staff members. By taking a broad range of courses that span practically the entire University of New Mexico curricula, students will be encouraged to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

The idea, ultimately, is to get the university more involved in the economic development of the surrounding city and provide a human element for the physical Innovate ABQ.

“If you’re a student who has thought about creating a product or new technology, starting your own company or improving an existing product or service, innovation Academy was designed with you in mind,” Del Campo said.

In August, innovation-Academy will begin offering classes for students with ideas — artistic, scientific, mechanical, social, pedagogic, marketing, linguistic — and more. Many classes are already offered, but new ones will be added, DelCampo said, describing the program as “flexible.” Students will be able to use iA subjects as majors or minors, and eventually, the program will include a graduate component.

Student entrepreneurs seeking to graduate from innovation Academy will need to take at least one relevant course per year. They also will be called on to participate in a club or organization, attend three lecture series or workshops during the academic year, and develop personalized branding and marketing skills.

As they progress, they will attain bronze, silver, gold and Lobo levels of achievement. The Lobo level involves completing a “capstone” project, such as starting a new business.

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