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At Global Entrepreneurship Week, innovation crosses disciplines

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To kick off the Center for Research Inno­va­tion’s Global Entre­pre­neur­ship Week, each North­eastern dean had the oppor­tu­nity to describe the role entre­pre­neur­ship played in his or her college.

Just one problem: It turns out five min­utes isn’t nearly enough time. Deans, admit­tedly ver­bose by their very nature, con­sis­tently ran out the clock describing new ini­tia­tives and endeavors, each time drawing a friendly cue from CRI director Tracey Dodenhoff.

As each dean spoke, a common theme emerged: North­eastern is home to a vital and growing com­mu­nity of entre­pre­neurs, working across dis­ci­plines to develop cre­ative solu­tions to the prob­lems of today and tomorrow.

“The only edu­ca­tion really worth having is one where you take what you know and know how to use it,” said School of Law dean Jeremy Paul, describing how Northeastern’s long­standing com­mit­ment to real-​​world, expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion and use-​​inspired research gives the uni­ver­sity an extra advan­tage in fos­tering entre­pre­neurs. “For law stu­dents, entre­pre­neur­ship is not merely the side­line; it is the main event.”

Hugh Courtney, the dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness, said the co-​​op pro­gram gives the uni­ver­sity a tremen­dous com­pet­i­tive advan­tage over other schools because of the level of engage­ment with industry North­eastern stu­dents receive.

“These stu­dents we are get­ting today have the aca­d­emic cre­den­tials to go any­where in the world,” Courtney said. “So why do they choose to come here? It’s co-​​op. Think about the guts and lack of risk-​​aversion a 17– or 18-​​year-​​old has to have to make that choice. The stu­dents we have are born entrepreneurs.”

“It’s our job to catch up,” he added, describing new insti­tu­tional endeavors, like the Center for Entre­pre­neur­ship Edu­ca­tion and Devel­op­ment, which are key to sharing the busi­ness school’s aca­d­emic approach to entre­pre­neur­ship with pro­grams across the university.

At the start of the kickoff event, held Tuesday night in the Raytheon Amphithe­ater in the Egan Research Center, Doden­hoff described the past year as a land­mark for inno­va­tion at North­eastern. The uni­ver­sity, she said, saw an 88 per­cent increase in inven­tion dis­clo­sure and 10 new patents, citing a few exam­ples from CRI’s newly-​​released annual report.

Global Entre­pre­neur­ship Week, which started Tuesday and runs through Friday, brings ses­sions on entre­pre­neur­ship and inno­va­tion across aca­d­emic dis­ci­plines to campus. Tuesday’s events included the inau­gural B.I.G. Ven­ture Fair in the Curry Stu­dent Center and co-​​hosted by CRI and Career Ser­vices. B.I.G, which stands for busi­ness, inno­va­tion and growth, con­nected star­tups from across the Boston area with stu­dents eager to build part­ner­ships or pursue a career at an up-​​and-​​coming venture.

Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun (left) shakes hands with Randy Dailey, com­puter sci­ence ’09, who works for Loc­a­lytics, a mobile appli­ca­tion ana­lytics com­pany, at the B.I.G. Ven­ture Fair.

Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun also toured the fair, greeting stu­dents and learning more about the entre­pre­neurial ven­tures on display.

At another event on Tuesday, stu­dents got an up-​​close look at how one of film’s most beloved char­ac­ters found his way into a social-​​media adven­ture game. The ses­sion, titled“Indiana Jones Adven­ture World: Making Core Game­play for Everyone” and hosted by the North­eastern Center for the Arts, fea­tured 2007 mechan­ical engi­neering alumnus Seth Sivak dis­cussing the devel­op­ment of the suc­cessful game for Facebook.

“We said, ‘Let’s make changes quickly, let’s come up with pro­to­types and just keep throwing away things that aren’t fun,” said Sivak, describing his team’s men­tality in cre­ating a game that would appeal to all audi­ences and thrive in a com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment. “Because we weren’t making a game that was just for gamers; we were a small team but we had to come up with a product that could appeal to people of all ages.”