News

Open for Business

business / announcement

More than 350 people gathered to mark the official launch of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at Carnegie Mellon University, where they heard from venture capitalist James R. Swartz, university leaders, and a number of entrepreneurs who have used the university as a launching pad for their own startup ventures.

The announcement was part of the biannual LaunchCMU event, a showcase of entrepreneurial achievements, now under the auspices of the Swartz Center.

The university created the Swartz Center with support from a $31 million gift from Swartz, a distinguished entrepreneur and founding partner of the global venture capital firm Accel Partners. The center will serve as a hub for the university's entrepreneurship activities, supporting and bringing together students, faculty, researchers, alumni and local entrepreneurs.

"Entrepreneurship is about creating value. Carnegie Mellon has world-class talent in exactly the right value-creating disciplines of engineering, computer science, design and business. Now we will have the additional resources and talent to enhance and mobilize our embedded entrepreneurial opportunities," said Swartz, who earned his master's degree in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon in 1966.

"The center will draw Carnegie Mellon researchers, faculty and students from across our campus to develop business ideas and launch startups," said University President Subra Suresh. "It will support our alumni entrepreneurs wherever they are in their careers. We very much hope that alumni and friends of Carnegie Mellon University will engage with us and will contribute ideas that will shape the future evolution of the entrepreneurship center."

The Swartz Center is a system of programs and activities that offers each entrepreneur a unique path of education, engagement, collaboration and opportunity, creating a truly transformative learning experience. The center is led by Faculty Co-Directors Lenore Blum and Jon Cagan, and Executive Director Dave Mawhinney.

The center's launch comes as the university builds considerable momentum as a leader in new technologies, artistic creativity, learning engineering and transformational discoveries at the crossroads of different academic fields and disciplines. Startup activity among the university's faculty, students and alumni has been robust with 38 companies created last year alone.

The fall edition of LaunchCMU featured cutting-edge research, innovations and startups by Carnegie Mellon students, alumni, faculty and staff under the theme of "Smart Cities."

"We are so pleased to be launching the Swartz Center in conjunction with LaunchCMU, an event that exemplifies what's possible when top talent generates and pursues groundbreaking ideas in a nurturing environment," said Provost Farnam Jahanian.

As founding partner of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Accel Partners, Swartz has led a global venture capital firm that counts many of the most revolutionary technology businesses among its investments, including Facebook, Veritas Software, Riverbed, Etsy and Dropbox. In 2007, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Venture Capital Association.

Swartz is a founding member and chair of President Suresh's Global Advisory Council at Carnegie Mellon, which comprises a distinguished group of more than 20 leaders, entrepreneurs and chief executives of major organizations. He also is a member of the Tepper School's Business Board of Advisers. In 2013, the Tepper School honored Swartz with a Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of his professional accomplishments and his commitment to education.

The gift from Swartz includes $13 million in permanent university endowment, which in combination with other resources will support Presidential Scholarships and Fellowships for students, a faculty chair, entrepreneurs-in-residence, an executive director and staff for the center. An additional $18 million will be directed to a number of programmatic and infrastructure projects over the next four years. This includes the $10 million committed in 2014 for the creation of space for entrepreneurship activities in the new building in the David A. Tepper Quadrangle. The remaining $8 million, leveraged with additional support, will fund infrastructure projects at several other locations across campus, new campus-wide curriculum development, a new fund to seed ideas across Carnegie Mellon's colleges and schools, and community outreach to engage local secondary schools in entrepreneurship learning opportunities.

Tuesday's event recognized the newly created Swartz Center Advisory Board. The board consists of members across key constituencies of the national entrepreneurial community with connections to Carnegie Mellon. These business leaders and successful entrepreneurs will provide expertise and guidance for the ongoing activities of the Swartz Center.

The members of the Swartz Center Advisory Board are Lane Bess, principal and founder, Bess Ventures and Advisory; Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande, president and chairman of Sparta Group LLC; Matt Humphrey, co-founder and CEO, LendingHome; Jonathan Kaplan, founder and chairman, The Melt; DJ Kleinbaum, co-founder and co-CEO, Emerald Cloud Laboratory; Susan Koger, co-founder and chief creative officer, ModCloth; Miles Reidy, partner, QED Investors; Matt Rogers, founder and chief product officer, Nest; Ruchi Sanghvi, vice president of operations, Dropbox; Peter Stern, serial tech entrepreneur and CEO; Jim Swartz, founding partner emeritus, Accel Partners; and Shanna Tellerman, co-founder and CEO, Modsy.