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The Weinert Center is the home of the entrepreneurship specialization in the School of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The center is dedicated to teaching, research, and service pertaining to entrepreneurial management and enterprise development.
Although the first entrepreneurship course was in 1982, the Center was created in 1987. It was renamed in 1999 after James J. Weinert, an alumnus of the School of Business. For the past two decades, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been involved in entrepreneurship education, outreach and research.
The Weinert Center is a resource for students interested in entrepreneurship. Students complete a concentration of programs in entrepreneurship and other related topics in preparation for roles as business owners and managers, venture capitalists, or consultants to smaller businesses. They are trained to innovate, write business plans, and pursue entrepreneurial dreams.
In addition to this specialization, the center supports the school’s undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees, conducts research in the field of entrepreneurship, assists local business ventures, and contributes to public policy debate on issues related to entrepreneurship. The center promotes the Steven Burrill Technology Business Plan Competition at Grainger Hall with annual prizes of $22,000. Students regularly compete in the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC).
The Weinert Center at the Wisconsin School of Business is currently[when?] ranked #13 in the U.S. and #1 in the Big Ten by Entrepreneur Magazine and the Princeton Review for graduate entrepreneurial education.
The MBA program in Entrepreneurial Management was named the 2009 “National Model MBA Entrepreneurship Program” by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), a national network of entrepreneurship educators, professional practitioners, researchers and government policy makers. The award is given to programs that reflect “innovation, quality, comprehensiveness, sustainability, transferability, depth of support and impact.”
Entrepreneurial management curriculum
Students individually tailor their programs by taking electives from across the UW campus. They also have the option of adding a Certificate in Business, Environment and Social Responsibility.
All Weinert Center students attend the capstone course Weinert Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship (WAVE) class that provides them with a year-long applied practicum in starting and growing entrepreneurial businesses. The practicum involves a weekly seminar, hands-on work with start-up businesses, and interaction with local and national experts on a variety of topics important to the education of budding entrepreneurs.
WAVE students work with young local high-promise businesses to develop in-depth understanding of the businesses and their environments, leading to the creation of comprehensive strategic, operating and financing plans.
Students also use the WAVE program as a platform to launch their own ventures. The Weinert Ventures Funds is available to make equity investments in promising student start-ups
WAVE Investment Fund
Students are eligible to apply for up to $100,000 in investment capital for their start-up businesses. This fund was made possible by an initial gift from James Weinert. Bruce D. Neviaser donated significantly to this investment fund in honor of his father, Daniel H. Neviaser, a prominent Madison civic leader and WAVE advisor.
Weinert Center students are involved with many student organizations campus-wide including:
- University of Wisconsin Entrepreneur Association
- Net Impact
- Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE)
- MBA Global Business Program
Students have received support from the Center and had success in the following competitions:
- Burrill Business Plan Competition
- Moot Business Plan Competition
- Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Competition
- Elevator Pitch Olympics at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium
- Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC)