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AU Center for Innovation's strategic partnerships

The campus-wide American University Center for Innovation (AUCI) develops and maintains a range of strategic partnerships with local, national, and foreign governments, public and private corporations, non-profits, and think tanks to help us deliver the mission to help American University (AU) students and alumni from all across campus to gain a full understanding of the real world of business and markets by confronting, embracing, and creating opportunities—with the goal of achieving the highest levels of human flourishing and self-actualization. Strategic partnerships can involve curriculum, incubator, and research programs.


Curriculum partnerships: AUCI seeks partnerships to deliver on our innovative undergraduate and graduate curriculum. Our existing curriculum partnerships include: 

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), Bergen, Norway 
In 2017 and 2018, AUCI partnered with the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in Bergen, Norway, to offer 41 AU students the option to follow MGMT396 Corporate Entrepreneurship or MGMT396 Nonprofit and Social Entrepreneurship which include a one week (spring) or two week (summer) travel stay in Bergen, Norway (fully funded by the Norwegian government and private foundation donors), working closely with corporate partners Marine Harvest (NYSE/OSE-listed fishery), Evry (Bergen-based software company), Deloitte (global consulting firm) and ImpactHub (Bergen-based social venture). In 2018, 20 NHH students came to American University for a week of courses as well as sessions at Deloitte and the Norwegian Embassy, and a private tour of Congress. Additionally Norwegian Ambassador to the U.S. Kåre Aas lectured in classes and hosted two events at the Embassy for AU students and faculty. AUCI also regularly hosts members from the Norwegian Embassy and other foreign embassies to discuss present and future collaboration opportunities. This partnership was made possible due to generous funding from Senter for Internasjonalisering av Utdanning (SIU)—the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education. 


FedTech Commercialization through Hyperion, Washington, DC: Through Ben Solomon of Hyperion, our undergraduate and graduate students take the independent study FedTech Commercialization which pairs highly qualified entrepreneurs with cutting-edge inventions from the US federal lab system to conduct customer discovery and build business models around emerging technologies. The FedTech program leverages lean startup techniques while also focusing on the unique aspects of turning a federally funded technology into a startup, enabling students to learn and experience tech entrepreneurship, ethnographic market research, technology transition, and early-stage tech investing. The independent study focuses heavily on interviewing stakeholders and pitching results to a panel of entrepreneurs. In addition to working with the technology developer, students interact regularly with local entrepreneurs, investors and tech firms. Exceptional students have the option to collaborate with their federal lab at the end of class to use the technology to start a new commercial company. 


Incubator partnerships: AUCI welcomes partnerships that assist our student ventures’ development. Existing partnerships include pro bono business software solutions, legal assistance, and technology.


Research partnerships: AUCI is keen to extend research partnerships which have included the World Bank, Small Business Administration, and Kauffman Foundation. Examples of current partnerships include the Chinese government’s generous China Scholarship Council (CSC) grant to enable Hezun Li, a PhD student from the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in Beijing to conduct entrepreneurship-related research at AUCI for 2017-18. Other governments funding research scholars to spend a short stay at AUCI include Spain, Germany, and Norway. 


Other partnerships: We also seek partnerships to help develop a more entrepreneurial mindset across the university. One example of a successful partnership is Tampa-based Home Shopping Network (HSN) which filmed a three-day TV show at American University- the “American Dreams Academy” for more than 120 individuals, including some of AU students, on campus in November 2017. Daymond John (Fubu founder and one of the Sharks from Shark Tank) keynoted the Academy which included many other highly successful entrepreneurs and inventors on the panels such as Stacey Schieffelin, founder and CEO of ybf cosmetics and her Women Leadership Live co-founders Debbie Saviano and Linda McMahon (Administrator, Small Business Administration).