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VCU joins elite group to represent U.S. in international organization

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Garret Westlake.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center has been accepted as an official partner of the European Innovation Academy, an international organization that advances worldwide innovation through the formation of international interdisciplinary student teams alongside corporate partners and venture capitalists.

The elite group that VCU joins includes corporate partners such as Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as well as University of California, Berkeley — the only other U.S. university to embed the EIA program into its curriculum for credit. Other institutions, such as Stanford University, will have faculty speakers and mentors at the event. 

Venture Creation University

Venture Creation University is VCU's strategy for ensuring all students are exposed to innovation and entrepreneurship and have access to entrepreneurial pathways. To find out more about this effort, and to learn about innovation and entrepreneurial programs offered at VCU, visit: http://entrepreneurship.vcu.edu/

“The opportunity to join other elite institutions in the EIA is a testament to VCU’s outstanding students, faculty and institutional commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation,” said Garret Westlake, executive director of the da Vinci Center.

In summer 2017, at least 15 da Vinci Center students will travel to Turin, Italy, where they will join more than 600 students from 82 nationalities in developing new ventures and pitching to venture capital firms for funding. During the EIA’s 15-day summer program, participants develop and bring to market a new venture startup. They are taught the skills to make their venture a success and follow all the milestones from idea to launch.

“In addition to the experience of rapid prototyping and launching a venture, VCU students participating in this program will gain access to an international network of peers, innovation leaders and investors who will enrich the lives of students well into the future,” Westlake said.

As part of the da Vinci Center’s commitment to experiential learning, the EIA initiative will become a cornerstone of the Master of Product Innovation Program. The da Vinci Center is currently accepting applications for the spring 2017 MPI Program, and students accepted to this cohort will be the first from VCU to attend the EIA program in the summer of 2017.

“I am extremely proud of VCU’s partnership with the EIA,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “This further solidifies our reputation as a university that is dedicated to creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Alongside fellow partners, Berkeley and Stanford, we look forward to representing the U.S. next year in Turin.”

A collaboration of VCU’s schools of the Arts, Business, Engineering, and the College of Humanities and Sciences, the da Vinci Center is a unique collegiate model that advances innovation and entrepreneurship through cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The European Innovation Academy is a nonprofit educational institution recognized for excellence in tech entrepreneurship education. Future entrepreneurs and business leaders are immersed in a multicultural ecosystem of more than 4,000 alumni and faculty from 75 different countries.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 225 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Seventy-nine of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The VCU Health brand represents the health sciences schools of VCU, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.