Bowie State cooking plans for student incubator -- Gazette.Net


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There are things Bowie State University student and entrepreneur Miguel Asua said he wishes he knew more about - how to incorporate, crafting a business plan and winning a business loan - before he launched his multimedia business in February 2011.

In an effort to help future students who have a idea for a business, but lack a plan for success, BSU is planning to open a new student business incubator next year.

“It took me a long time to get [my business] rolling. Making a lot of wrong decisions,” he said. “Students need this kind of help.”

The student center would join the Bowie Business Innovation Center, a Bowie State University-based incubator backed by the city of Bowie and the Prince George’s County Government.

Plans call for the school to have an open competition around October where students would submit business ideas, said Anthony Nelson, dean of BSU’s business school.

Submissions would be judged on a variety of factors ranging from how well developed the plan is to the academic strength of the student, said Richard Lowery, a BSU professor involved in the talks to create a student business incubator, which he adds could provide young entrepreneurs wisdom and guidance as they try to turn an idea into a working business.

The initial group would probably be around five to 10 people, Lowery said.

About 5 percent of schools have some sort of student incubator, said Steven Parscale, who is responsible for accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

The University of Maryland, College Park, has had a business incubator for engineering students since 2006 and has graduated 30 businesses, said Chaunda Pair, an office assistant with the Technology Advancement Program. About 30 students are currently enrolled in the program, Pair said.

Nationwide, entrepreneurship is becoming more accepted as a major, with between 500 to 600 schools offer degrees in entrepreneurship, Parscale said. The incubator, which is intended to be open to students regardless of major, would most likely prove popular across the campus as there are students both inside and outside the business school crafting startups, said Tylar Brock president of BSU’s student government association.

Brock has launched an agency that seeks to represent aspiring musicians while others she knows are working to make a business out passions such as photography, she said.

“I think the best type of education is hands on,” said Brock of Bowie. “It’s that real world, ground-level experience.”

Talk about creating a student incubator dates to the initial discussions of the BIC in 2008, but the school held off on making its own incubator in part to allow the BIC to serve as a model, Nelson said.

To start up an incubator, the school estimates it would need about $200,000 to pay for a full-time staffer to coordinate the incubator as well as provide supplies and equipment, Nelson said. The bulk of BIC’s $245,000 in funding comes from public sources, according to BIC officials.

The school is looking for funding, but even without outside support the school could potentially create an incubator using its own staff and resource, Lowery said.

“We’re really confident that this will generate a lot of interest and help to promote the business school,” Nelson said. “We’re hoping that the students will graduate from the student incubator and go to the Bowie Business Innovation Center.”

amccombs@gazette.net.