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K-State Today

April 8, 2015

Global Food Systems update: Launch a Business adds food and agriculture emphasis

Submitted by Pat Melgares

A successful program initiated a year ago in Kansas State University’s College of Business Administration as a springboard for entrepreneurs and their big ideas is taking another step forward.

Chad Jackson, director of the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship, said that the program — Launch a Business — has doubled the number of entrepreneurs it is accepting into the five-week course, including 10 spots for those focusing on advancements in food and agriculture.

Launch a Business provides entrepreneurs with access to university faculty and alumni mentors who are operating successful businesses. Up to 20 entrepreneurs will meet once a week from late May through mid-summer.

"The success of Launch a Business is in having really great entrepreneurs as well as the support of Kansas State faculty, mentors and students," Jackson said. "We have been able to get all of these people together working for the same goal; they want to see entrepreneurs be successful."

The added emphasis on the global food system is a move that capitalizes on a trend toward industry specialization within venture acceleration programs.

"In its first year, our program had a broad reach for entrepreneurs, and we’ll continue that. But the exciting thing is when you start to develop expertise for specific industries. The impact you can have goes up a notch," Jackson said.

"Part of Kansas State University's mission is to support economic development in the state of Kansas, and that is a big reason why we do this," Jackson said. "What's really exciting for me is to think of this five years from now, 10 years from now, and to see some of the economic development, job and wealth creation from this."

Similar programs are available across the country in the public sector, but Jackson is not aware of other universities providing this type of support. He said that the technical expertise available on a university campus often helps entrepreneurs beyond their business questions.

For example, a year ago one entrepreneur made a connection in the College of Human Ecology that helped her with a business idea for custom bras.

"I think that's where the power of an idea like this really comes to fruition," Jackson said. "Everyone is in it for the right reason: to help."

The 2015 class will be announced in late April. Find out more about Launch a Business at its website.