Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Private College's Entrepreneurship Course Helps Generate Successful Start-Ups


By Matthew Kalman

Herzliya, Israel

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both famously dropped out of Harvard to start wildly successful technology companies. In Israel, an innovative program is providing undergraduate students the business tools they need to become entrepreneurs, while also encouraging them to complete their degrees.

The Zell Entrepreneurship Program at the Interdisciplinary Center, a private college here, has spawned alumni-created companies that together have attracted nearly $100-million in investments in less than a decade. The Interdisciplinary Center has long sought to cut across academic silos and attract international scholars and students. The Zell program is one of its most successful efforts to distinguish itself from Israel's public-university system.

The yearlong course is free, not for credit, and open to 20 final-year undergraduates chosen from applicants in all departments at the Interdisciplinary Center. It emphasizes practical business skills, networking, and students' interaction with actual entrepreneurs.

"Forty percent of our alumni are working as founding members of start-ups or running their own business," said Liat Aaronson, executive director of the program.

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