Student entrepreneurs and members and friends of the university community gathered Friday to open the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Business Accelerator, a new entrepreneurial initiative of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business.
“The ACEI Business Accelerator adds to the already rich continuum of development and support of entrepreneurs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville,” said Lynn Youngs, executive director of the Anderson Center. “Student businesses in the ACEI Business Accelerator will experience support customized to meet their specific needs as they move through acceleration toward investment.”
Entrepreneurs-in-residence, along with Anderson Center faculty, will provide coaching and mentorship to guide participants through the program. Students will have access to a shared working space designed to facilitate collaboration among students, faculty, staff, and investors, and to a rich network of entrepreneurial resources.
“The Anderson Center Business Accelerator will play an integral role in UT’s push, under Chancellor Beverly Davenport’s leadership, to become a much more active player in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem of the region,” said Stephen Mangum, dean and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair of the Haslam College of Business. “That the business accelerator’s grand opening was attended by so many students, past and present, who have launched or who are in the process of exploring the launch of their own enterprises speaks to its great potential.”
A gift from David Stevens (’75), a private equity investor, funded the newly renovated space. Stevens spoke to students gathered for the grand opening event.
“I’m really excited to be here today, and the most exciting part is that the human assets are in the room,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is provide a platform to help you take your dreams to real businesses.”
In addition to donor gifts, support from the Haslam College of Business and the UT Research Foundation helped provide the new program for student entrepreneurs.
The ACEI Business Accelerator is located on the first floor of the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator on the UT Institute of Agriculture campus.