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Unigo lists Rice as one of top 10 schools for entrepreneurs

By Frances Hessel and Kevin Lin     9/19/12 7:00pm


Rice was ranked seventh on a list of "Top 10 Colleges for Aspiring Entrepreneurs" by Unigo on Sept. 1. 

The 2013 Unigo College Rankings are based on student polls and voting, the Unigo website states. Unigo, a blog sector of the Huffington Post website, is a resource with more than 250,000 college reviews by students, according to the Unigo site. According to Unigo, the "top 10 schools for budding entrepreneurs" have exceptional programs in entrepreneurship and easily accessible resources for students hoping to start a program or company. 

Unigo referenced the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and the 2012 Rice Business Plan Competition as justification for the ranking. 

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship was formed in 2000 as an alliance among the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, the Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary Initiatives and the Office of Research, the Rice Alliance website states. Over the past 12 years, the Rice Alliance has helped launch over 250 startup companies, which have raised over $500 million collectively. 

"In 2012, the Rice Business Plan Competition, hosted at Rice, awarded $1.55 million in prizes to competitors from across the globe who pitched their new technology business plans to judges who have already proven their abilities as venture capital investors," the Unigo website states. "With such an amazing concentration of talent and financing, it's little wonder that Rice is one of the top 10 colleges for aspiring entrepreneurs."

Dennis Qian (Will Rice '12) said only one team from Rice is allowed to compete in the Rice Business Plan Competition, which was a centerpiece of the Unigo ranking. 

"It has no benefit to Rice students and every benefit to tooting Rice's horn," Qian said. 

Will Rice College junior Veronica Saron said Rice's current resources for entrepreneurship are lacking. Saron, who helped coordinate 3 Day Startup, a collaborative computer programming event last year with Qian, said organizations such as the Rice Alliance focus mainly on graduate students. 

This is not the first time Rice has received a high ranking in entrepreneurship. In 2010, Rice was ranked No. 6 in the U.S. Princeton Review & Entrepreneur magazine, according to the Rice Alliance website. 

Provost George McLendon said the rankings are well-founded. 

"As one who is currently teaching a course on leadership and entrepreneurship, I am impressed with the entrepreneurial energy and creativity of our students," McLendon said. "And as a serial entrepreneur myself, I think this ranking properly captures a real spirit of Rice. We are in the top few - higher than Stanford or MIT - in companies spawned per research dollar. With the continuing advances of the Rice Alliance and the Jones School and with new activities like our BioScience Accelerator, Rice continues to offer great opportunities for our students to be active participants in entrepreneurship."

Qian said that Rice is starting to engage undergraduates in entrepreneurship with grassroots attempts like the computer science club and its campus-wide hackathons. He said he recommends that students plug in to the Houston startup community if they are interested in entrepreneurship. 

Saron said that students interested in entrepreneurship should look into college classes like COLL 207: Launch- Entrepreneurship and LEAD 313: Entrepreneurial Leadership. 

Jones College freshman Charlotte Larson said she has already sensed an entrepreneurial spirit among students within her first month at Rice. 

"In my Leadership 309 class, 'Theory to Practice,' we took a poll, and all but three students in the class hope to become entrepreneurs," Larson said. "We learn leadership theories and analyze cases in which leaders put these into practice in this class, which is valuable to future entrepreneurs, as it teaches us to assess our own relative strengths and weaknesses as well. At Rice, I think it is common for students to try to think outside the box and create their own projects, a key foundation for entrepreneurs.

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