Doctoral students can hone entrepreneurial skills with new citation

​Doctoral students who are interested in developing their entrepreneurial skills now have the option of earning the new Entrepreneurship Citation offered by the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

All Washington University doctoral students are eligible to participate, but must acquire approval from their director of graduate studies or dissertation adviser.

The citation will be added to a student’s transcript when he or she has completed program requirements. While postdocs are not eligible for the citation, they can participate in most elements, and administrators are exploring ways to recognize their participation.

The program has three main goals:
● To provide entrepreneurial training and experience
● To spark interdisciplinary collaboration for fostering innovation
● To enhance future career opportunities

“An increasing number of our students and postdocs have become interested in ways they can use their training outside of a traditional academic career,” said John Russell, PhD, professor of developmental biology and associate dean of graduate education in the Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences.

“The citation provides a structure for them to become familiar with and participate in activities related to intellectual property and entrepreneurship. As such, it provides important experience and training to pursue a career in this area.”

Russell said that almost a third of doctoral graduates in the sciences end up in non-academic fields such as biotechnology, business or law, where they use their technical and critical-thinking skills in not only research, but also commercialization or intellectual property.

“In the past, graduates largely stumbled into these areas,” Russell said. “The citation recognizes the importance of these non-academic outcomes for the biomedical workforce and provides training for students to test their interest and develop the necessary skills to enter these areas at an earlier stage of their careers.”

To earn the citation, students must successfully fulfill the training requirements by taking courses and seminars designed to help identify entrepreneurial opportunities and collaborate across disciplines.

The following courses may be credited toward the training component of the citation. Students must take at least one course.
● Basics of Bio-Entrepreneurship
● Commercialization of Science and Technology
● Introduction to Entrepreneurship
● Business Planning for New Enterprises (The Hatchery)
● Social Entrepreneurship

Students may attend seminars in any of the seminar series below. A maximum of four seminars may be credited toward the citation.
● Office of Technology Management Seminars or Classes
● Skandalaris Center Seminars
● Professional Development Program Seminars
● Center for Emerging Technologies Seminars
● InnovateVMS Seminars or Classes
● BioEntrepreneurship Core (BEC) Seminars

Students also must participate in multiple entrepreneurial experiences. They can choose from programs such as IdeaBounce®, the Olin Cup Competition, YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition, the Graduate Research Symposium, and so forth. The experiential component is designed to help students develop an innovative mindset and increase their comfort with uncertainty. Students also must obtain at least three formal written evaluations of their experiences.

“We are very excited to be able to offer the citation to our PhD students who feel that a mix of experiences will help them consider various life choices,” said Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center. “The emphasis on entrepreneurial experiences and interdisciplinary collaborations helps contribute to our evolving culture of entrepreneurship at Washington University. It also helps with the Skandalaris Center’s mission of encouraging ideas and developing entrepreneurs.”