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$16 million donated for entrepreneurship

By Jaecey Parham     3/23/16 4:11pm

Alumnus Frank Liu (Lovett ’78) and family donated $16.5 million to Rice University earmarked for entrepreneurial education and the creation of a new idea lab, according to a Rice news release.

As the founder of Lovett Homes, InTown Homes and Lovett Commercial in Houston, Liu is a successful entrepreneur himself. The donation from the Liu family will support the Rice Entrepreneurship Initiative, which was created in 2015, as a part of President David Leebron’s Vision for the Second Century, according to Rice News. The initiative aims to promote Leebron’s vision of shifting Rice into “The Entrepreneurial University.” Classes related to Entrepreneurship@Rice are designed to incorporate both theory and practice to help undergraduate and graduate students be better equipped for the entrepreneurship world.

The $16.5 million will specifically launch the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the news release said. Lilie will offer students courses and resources to help them pursue of their entrepreneurial ambitions. Abby Larson, the director of undergraduate education and research for the Rice Entrepreneurship Initiative, will lead Lilie, according to the news release.

Through Lilie, two new courses will be created to give students a hands-on learning experience, according to the news release. These courses will allow for an experiential component to contribute to students’ education. Rather than learning through lectures, students in these courses will actively work in teams on real world problems. Students will also have the opportunity to work closely with Rice faculty while engaging with entrepreneurs in the Houston community. 

One of the new classes, the E-teams Entrepreneurship Experience course, aims to illustrate the experimental component of entrepreneurship education. In this course, students will be part of teams working on projects from local startups, the news release said. While meeting with mentors and instructors, the teams will act as actual entrepreneurs, setting goals and presenting their projects to a panel of reviewers.

Lilie will also fund the Lilie Venture Challenge, according to the news release. This project was typically offered only in the summer, but will now be available as a capstone project. The challenge entails a business plan competition with prizes awarded to promising teams.

Next year’s matriculating class will be the first able to apply for the Lilie New Entrepreneurs Grant, according to Rice News. The grant hopes to attract freshmen interested in entrepreneurship and further promote the growth of Rice’s status as a college with a strong entrepreneurial outlook. 

According to the news release, Lilie will partner with the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen and the Doerr Institute for New Leaders, which was created in 2015 with a $50 million donation from John and Ann Doerr.

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