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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Spring/Summer 2011

Building Smarter Cities Through Entrepreneurial Leadership

Monday, April 25, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Dr. Christoph Winkler, Associate Director, CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE) - The City University of New York, New York, NY

Dr. Stuart Schulman, Executive Director, Center for Economic and Workforce Development and IVE - Kingsborough Community College, The City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY

Over the past eight years, The CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE) has been successfully operating a university-wide Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Program (LASEP), where more than 700 students from almost 20 CUNY campuses have been developing entrepreneurial leadership and sustainability projects and businesses. To reach and facilitate communication among students from different CUNY campuses, IVE uses both open and closed social networks. Whereas Facebook ( is used for student outreach, recruitment and program updates; Ning ( serves as the central program platform to facilitate for project development, virtual mentorship and student communication.

The LASEP starts with a Kick-off Event in February and guides students through a series of milestones over the course of the semester. Students identify an entrepreneurial problem in their community and, as teams, develop solid entrepreneurial leadership project proposals or business plans. During the course of the semester the students are matched with online project mentors and are invited to participate in a series of roundtable discussion that are held by industry experts and private sector partners. These events are held face-to-face, online, and as hybrids, giving students the opportunity to participate via distance.

At the end of the semester (late May or early June), all student teams that have reached the various milestones are invited to present their project to a panel of judges to compete for prizes, awards, and IVE's Virtual Summer Incubator placements. To qualify for the IVE Virtual Summer Incubator, students are required to present at the final event and respond to a request for funding, which lays out the summer work schedule, associate goals and objectives, and detailed funding needs.

The goal of the stipended IVE Virtual Summer Incubator is to move the business from its conceptual, virtual stage to a fully incubated and operational enterprise. During the summer the students will receive ongoing mentorship on IVE's social networking site as well as Baruch College's Small Business Development Center at its Field Center for Entrepreneurship. The program concludes in the fall where IVE's virtual student entrepreneurs present their incubated enterprises to the entire group and, if needed, receive additional ongoing support by IVE.

Previous successfully incubated student projects range from solutions to improve transportation in NYC, to support individuals with disabilities to access restaurants and tourist attractions, to build urban hydroponic walls and roof-top gardens, to student social networking sites, to sustainability projects, to asthma and diabetes awareness organizations. To access a full list of projects, visit:

Still Evolving

Building on these previous successes, IVE kicked-off its ninth iteration of its program in February 2011 by introducing a new focus and a strong partner from the private sector. IVE is proud to partner with IBM this semester and introduced the concepts of IBM's Smarter Cities ( as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC ( as organizing frameworks for this year's projects. Kevin Faughnan, director of the IBM Academic Initiative, introduced this general framework during our Kick-off Event and emphasized that "selecting a project related to the needs of NYC that leverages a student's entrepreneurial drive is a win for the students, the university, the city, and for IBM. IBM is pleased to help foster student teamwork and provide hands-on access to resources required to develop real-world projects, which capitalize on the latest data management, Web, and analytics tools. The skills built through this endeavor will certainly help support a Smarter NYC.”

The program's new focus is paired with a robust series of online and face-to-face roundtables where experts and entrepreneurs present and discuss topics ranging from project management, to social media marketing, to venture capital. Rolando Franco, IBM Executive IT Architect and University Ambassador to CUNY announced that "IBM is excited to partner with the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship program to help students develop the business and technology skills required to be competitive in tomorrow's workforce. Through our collaboration with CUNY, we hope to empower students across the university to envision and help create a better future.”

In addition, IVE has broadened its online mentorship capacity and virtual incubator model on IVE's social networking site by creating a Virtual Mentor Lounge where students can access resources and seek mentorship advice from IBMers, CUNY Faculty, IVE Alumni, and other program partners.

For more information about the Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Program visit our social networking site at or

IVE's Leadership Program Kick-Off Event in February drew a roomful of students who will have access to a full range of IBM tools for their use in developing projects designed to help improve New York City.

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