When UVM Start began, it was meant to connect student entrepreneurs with alumni who could provide the projects with funds through tax-deductible donations and act as mentors to the students. Currently, they have seven student teams running projects that have gained a lot of traction already. The teams have designed a flying robot that can autonomously follow and film someone using a smartphone, a brand of clothing for the New England lifestyle, and an energy bar made with sustainable chocolate–among other things. The projects are as varied and creative as the students, and they have succeeded not only in engaging the alumni base, but they have inspired the entire community.
The Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin, recently weighed in with his thoughts on the project saying, ”UVM Start is an innovative way for young entrepreneurs to get the resources and mentorship they need to actually start a business. This project is a great example of a creative partnership that will not only give students valuable real-world experience vital to any education, but will also allow students to witness the magic of their ideas becoming a reality.”
The projects are getting increasing recognition across the state of Vermont as they emphasize the importance and joy of allowing students to run their own projects in conjunction with their classic university education, and it shows that business can exist outside of business schools. The projects inspire the surrounding community and help to break down the barriers that sometimes stand between universities and the cities and states in which they reside. The projects show people the utility of education and get everyone involved in the process, whether they become funders, mentors, or simply interested onlookers. Platforms like UVM Start are a great way for a community–such as UVM–to foster a new entrepreneurial environment for their entire area. These platforms allow people outside the university to get involved in educating our next generation and building the future. By creating this kind of interactive community, UVM Start can increase the flow of ideas, improve upon their students innovations, and teach their students and their surrounding communities the importance and productivity of collaboration.