Students discover entrepreneurship at Princeton

Thursday, Nov 13, 2014

Princeton offers a variety of student entrepreneurship opportunities, from formal courses to internships and clubs.

One opportunity is the eLab Summer Accelerator Program administered by the Keller Center in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. This 10-week program gives select teams of students, both undergraduate and graduate, the chance to develop business or technology concepts with intensive mentorship from successful entrepreneurs and angel investors.

An eLab team from the Department of Electrical Engineering is developing SpaceTouch, a company based on technology that interprets human gestures to control smartphones, computers and other electronic devices. Graduate students Yingzhe (Dylan) Hu, Liechao Huang and Aoxiang Tang are harnessing their research in sensors and low-power circuit design with guidance from Assistant Professor Naveen Verma.

Another on-campus opportunity is the Keller Center’s Innovation Forum, an annual competition involving three-minute pitch presentations to an audience of angel investors. This year’s winning team is commercializing an efficient process for making novel nanoparticles to recover spilled oil, among other applications. The team from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering consisted of graduate students Vikram Pansare and Chris Sosa, 2014 Ph.D. graduate Chuan Zhang, Assistant Professor Rodney Priestley and Professor Robert Prud’homme.

The Princeton Entrepreneurship Club (E-Club) is a vibrant student-led organization that offers hackathons, startup camps, field trips and speakers. This year’s HackPrinceton —  a 36-hour event that provided food, camaraderie and a location  to develop an idea — attracted more than 500 participants  from 40 universities.

“E-Club’s success in recent years reflects the increased interest in entrepreneurship both at Princeton and nationwide,” said club president Stephanie He, Class of 2015. “We aim to continue this growth trajectory, and I envision E-Club as a hub for encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs, networking talented individuals, and providing opportunities for students to learn, compete and challenge themselves.”

To explore additional ways to foster entrepreneurship, University Provost David Lee assembled in January the Princeton Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee. Chaired  by Mung Chiang, director of the Keller Center and the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering, the committee is exploring options related to the vision, structures  and mechanisms of entrepreneurship at Princeton, and will  present its findings at the end of 2014.