In late September, Tufts completed its second annual Innovation Month. The program, created by the Derby Entrepreneurship Center in Tufts, aims to educate students about resources in the Boston area, help them develop applicable real-world skills, and provide networking opportunities.
Elaine Chen, director of the Derby Entrepreneurship Center in Tufts, looks forward to celebrating Innovation Month in the years to come.
“Innovation Month is an annual celebration of Tufts’ spirit of innovation,” Chen wrote in an email to the Daily. “Our goal is to introduce students to the rich resources in Tufts for students interested in learning how to apply their innovative and entrepreneurial spirit and skills to solve real-life problems.”
She also points out the importance of holding the event in September.
“September is the time when over 1000 new students come to campus for the first time. It is the perfect time for us to introduce Tufts’ resources to them and other students who may not be aware of what an amazing place Tufts is for innovative students to learn and thrive,” Chen wrote.
This year’s Innovation Month consisted of events hosted or co-hosted by the DEC. Events ranged from the Entrepreneurship Taco Social, a popular networking event alongside delicious food, to the launch of the Fletcher School D-Prize, which offered students a chance to explore ways to solve poverty through entrepreneurship, as well as $20,000 in cash prize for implementing the winning solution.
Throughout September, the DEC worked with a number of entrepreneurship-related student clubs and their leaders, including Jumbo Ventures, Women Entrepreneurs at Tufts, Imaginet, 180 Degrees Consulting and Product Studio.
Chen believes the DEC exemplifies the interdisciplinary spirit of Innovation Month and the DEC is exemplified by its many partnerships.
“We work with several other schools including Tisch College, The Fletcher School, the Food and Nutrition Innovation Institution at Friedman School, Identity Groups at Tufts, the NOLOP FAST Makerspace and of course our parent organization Tufts Gordon Institute and the School of Engineering ‘ Chen wrote.
Likewise, DEC programs have also proven to be very useful for students with special interests. Queena Yuan, a senior, is a student coordinator and marketing intern at DEC. She recalls that many students have used DEC programs to develop interdisciplinary interests and combine them with entrepreneurship.
“I’ve seen many students develop greatly through many programs that Tufts offers,” Yuan said.
Tufts currently only offers the Entrepreneurship minor. However, Innovation Month has provided a platform for students like Yuan to explore entrepreneurship and their own business interests. Yuan emphasizes that anyone with business-oriented interests can benefit from the DEC through clubs and internship opportunities.
“If there’s one thing I want [students] To know it’s not… you have to know a lot of things about entrepreneurship to go to these events,” Yuan said. “Honestly, it’s all about socializing and meeting new faces.”
Yuan suggests students can use DEC events as a platform to network with other students and professors in attendance.
For example, the Cross University Student Innovator Mixer, hosted in partnership with MIT, had over 200 participants from more than 20 universities in the Boston area.
“We have a lot of … DEC professors who attend these events. So if students literally just walk up and talk to one of them, it’s really, really possible…to spark a lot of good conversations,” Yuan said. “It will be to their advantage.”
Chen shares that sentiment and shares why she believes Innovation Month is having such an impact on the community.
“Tufts students are far more innovative and entrepreneurial than they give themselves credit for! We want to use Innovation Month to highlight what an amazing ecosystem they are in, to hear about the tremendous accomplishments of alumni who were students on campus not too long ago, and to help them meet other student innovators and encourage them to further develop their innovation and entrepreneurial mindset and skills to solve real problems,” Chen wrote.
As Innovation Month concludes, the DEC is preparing to open applications for the Tufts Ideas Contest on October 15th.
“The Tufts Ideas Contest is a comprehensive entry-level pitch competition designed for Tufts current and gap-year students (undergraduate and graduate students) to learn how to narrow a broad area of interest to a problem that is… worth solving and an idea for it develops the solution, validate both with potential customers and learn to present them to an audience,” Chen wrote.
Chen encourages students who enjoy applying ideas to solve real-world problems to apply. Previous winners of the Tufts Ideas Contest have come up with a variety of ideas, including international financial support and healthcare solutions. Applicants can also access a variety of supporting materials such as: B. Videos and prize presentations, and can participate in office hours.