North­eastern is launching a new center that unites pro­grams and ini­tia­tives across dis­ci­plines to train stu­dents and alumni to become the next gen­er­a­tion of entrepreneurs.

The North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Center for Entre­pre­neur­ship Edu­ca­tion — made pos­sible thanks to a $5 mil­lion invest­ment by uni­ver­sity trustee Alan S. McKim, MBA’88, the founder and chairman of Clean Har­bors, Inc. — cre­ates a pipeline that teaches entre­pre­neur­ship and busi­ness skills; helps stu­dents and alumni develop new ven­tures; and brings together promising, viable start-​​ups with a well-​​connected net­work of angel investors and ven­ture capitalists.

The center will be the entre­pre­neur­ship edu­ca­tion engine within the uni­ver­sity,” said Harry Lane, acting dean of the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion. “It’s a resource for the entire university.”

Marc Meyer, who directs the colleges’s High Tech MBA pro­gram, is leading the devel­op­ment of the new center along with fellow business-​​school fac­ulty mem­bers Daniel Gre­gory and Daniel J. McCarthy.

There are no short­cuts in starting a busi­ness — it takes a process,” said Meyer, the Robert Shillman Pro­fessor of Entre­prenuer­ship and a Matthews Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor. “That’s the focus of this new center.”

Pro­fessor Marc Meyer is leading the devel­op­ment of the new Center for Entre­pre­neur­ship Edu­ca­tion. Photo by John Gillooly.

The center’s work starts in the class­room with dis­tinct pro­grams for under­grad­u­ates, grad­uate stu­dents and alums. Under­grad­uate stu­dents across the uni­ver­sity have access to entre­pre­neur­ship courses, co-​​op posi­tions at com­pa­nies including start-​​ups run by North­eastern alumni, and the Entre­pre­neur­ship Club.  The club, which offers a variety of pro­grams for stu­dent entre­pre­neurs, was recently ranked sixth world­wide, and the under­grad­uate entre­pre­neur­ship pro­gram at North­eastern as a whole was ranked ninth in the nation by the Princeton Review in 2011.

Grad­uate stu­dents can ben­efit from the Lab to Ven­tures pro­gram, which helps North­eastern researchers trans­late cutting-​​edge work in engi­neering, med­ical devices and phar­ma­ceu­tical sci­ences into suc­cessful busi­nesses. For alumni, the center will offer Startup Boot­camps to help them develop busi­ness plans and net­work to the local invest­ment community.

All ven­tures — from under­grad­u­ates, grad­u­ates and alumni — feed into IDEA, Northeastern’s Ven­ture Accel­er­ator.  IDEA pro­vides men­tor­ship, resources and gap funding to new busi­nesses and works as a proving ground for new ven­tures. It then pro­vides poten­tial investors access to these ven­tures. Over the past 24 months, IDEA has worked with more than 200 ven­tures from every col­lege in the uni­ver­sity and pro­vided funding to 14 teams, many of which have drawn interest from out­side investors.

IDEA is student-​​run and we’re very serious about keeping it that way,” said Dan Gre­gory, IDEA’s fac­ulty advisor. “There’s a strong peer-​​to-​​peer com­po­nent of this — no one feels that they’re going to be graded when they come to IDEA.”

The com­bi­na­tion of class­room learning, IDEA and net­working with investors is a university-​​based “system of entre­pre­neur­ship” which, McCarthy said, “embodies our rich her­itage of expe­ri­en­tial education.”