Change is afoot in Rhode Island, at least where college students are concerned (and we’re not talking about the Occupy Providence movement).
The upcoming Startup Weekend, to be held at Providence College Oct. 21-23, is proof that the culture of entrepreneurship is finding a welcome growth medium in the attendees of Ocean State colleges and universities.
The event, founded last spring by a collection of college professors and held at Bryant University under the eye of M. Cary Collins, a finance professor with an entrepreneurship specialty, will bring together students from Bryant and PC, as well as Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Rhode Island.
The object of the weekend is to get students working in teams (with no university affiliation), thinking about starting businesses as much as it is to create actual enterprises. Of the 60-odd students in 18 teams who took part in the event earlier this year, two teams are still together working on business plans, says Mr. Collins.
As heartening as it is to hear that a number of the spring participants are getting closer to creating legitimate businesses, it is more so that they are doing it here. Creating a Rhode Island entrepreneurial class with ties to one another from its talented student population is one way to keep the oft-lamented brain drain from sapping the state’s talent. It’s almost icing on the cake if actual enterprises survive to the point of making money.
This year’s lead organizer, Matthew Eriksen, a management professor at PC, is hoping for 150 participants, while Mr. Collins is looking to attract more colleges to the program. It’s such a good idea, that shouldn’t be a difficult task. •
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