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Center Programs

The Center will provide access to social, intellectual and financial capital for its stakeholders on campus and beyond. Below please find specific programs and services that are offered at the Center.


Social Capital

  • Innovation Speaker Series. In order to expose Center stakeholders to successful leaders, learn from their successes and challenges, as well as network and garner information, we will host monthly in person presentations. The series will consist of keynote speakers or panel discussions on topics related to entrepreneurship and innovation. Speakers will be experts in their field and the series will span over 3-4 months.
  • Quarterly Newsletter. The Center will publish a web and email based newsletter that will showcase our programs, partners and stakeholder successes. The newsletter will be promoted via social media and through student groups and partner organizations, as well as sent to AU staff, faculty and alumni. Sign up here (add link to sign up)
  • City Solutions Hackathons. Modeled after the tech-based model, the Hackathon will engage a range of stakeholders and probe deeply into solutions to solve some of DC’s biggest problems in the areas of education, health, economic development, the arts, etc. The events could be general or sector specific depending on the sponsor. Academics, content makers, young professionals, business leaders and policy experts will be key participants. The Hackathons will focus on the ideation and development of at least three new products/services that will include details about users, distribution channels, revenue models, and strategic partners.


Intellectual Capital

  • Applied Research Partnerships. Leveraging the capabilities of staff, students and faculty, the Center will partner with leading companies and organizations to conduct relevant research projects as they relate to innovation. Topics will vary based on sponsor interest. Examples include researching the impact of mass urbanization on DC, the changing status of employees in the shared economy, the role of gentrification on a city’s economy, etc.
  • Venture Fellows. Recognizing that not all students are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, the Center will host Venture Fellows to expose interested individuals to the supply side of the sector. Students will participate in training sessions as well as apply their skills to the Entrepreneur Venture Fund, run by the Center. Students will perform due diligence, assist in sourcing and participate in term negotiations. Where possible students will receive stipends for their participation and have access to a professional investor/venture capitalist for at least one in person informational interview/mentoring session.


Financial Capital

  • Pitch competitions. The Center will host at least two pitch competitions per academic year. The areas of focus will be driven by sponsors as well as emerging topics in innovation. The pitch competition will be open to all Center stakeholders. The competitions will utilize in person pitches as well as online video submission as potential delivery mechanisms. Judges will be retained from the community and our sponsors. Winners will receive a monetary prize, as well as access to mentorship if they desire to pursue their idea.
  • Business plan competitions. The annual contest would provide two workshops for students on business plan development and allow 4-6 weeks for submission. Plans would be recruited from traditional and social entrepreneurs. Expert judges would be recruited to review the plans online and score. Winners would receive a cash prize.
  • Naming of the Center. The development office at American University has established a baseline of $5 million to name a center. This amount can be paid out in full or pledged over a five-year period. Funding levels range from $100,000 to $1,000,000.


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