Monday, March 23, 2009

Extreme March Madness

"A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free." Nikos Kazantzakis

As always, NCIIA held a great conference. Made more special this year in D.C., with the March Madness of the Mind held at the Smithsonian. I also like that each year there seem to be more students in attendance at this conference, in part because of the Sustainable Vision and VentureWell programs.

At this conference, the NCIIA also announced its sponsorship of Design Revolution 100 (DR100) which is an idea from Paul Polak to get 100 colleges and universities offering courses and programs in "Design for the Other 90%." Paul was unable to attend at the last minute, but it was exciting to see the interest that the conference attendees (faculty and students) showed for this new initiative. They also provided good feedback on how to help them create and build this at their institutions.

I was pleased to see several friends rewarded for their work. First, Andy Hargadon was recognized as an Emerging Leader for his work at UC Davis on entrepreneurship and clean technology. Then Gifford Pinchot and Jill Bamburg from Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI) were recognized for their work in building the first sustainable MBA program.

My favorite part of the conference is getting to meet student entrepreneurs. I was fortunate to spend time with passionate students working on projects in Rwanda, Ghana, India, Guatamala, Philippines and Peru. To see them light up about their ideas for better medical devices, cleaner energy, fungal insulation or better drinking water systems.

Lastly, I want to congratulate Powermundo, a GSSE team from Colorado State, for winning the William James Foundation business plan competition, as well as participating in VentureWell. Mike and Jacob did a great job of infecting others with their innovative ideas for bringing helpful clean technologies to the rural poor in Peru. Ian Fiske and the team at William James put on an a very well run competition, with a number of amazing teams and panelists participating.

Inspiring and encouraging young entrepreneurs to use business as a tool for social and enviromental change is important work. It was great to see NCIIA and WJF doing this work so well. I hope that March Madness encouraged a few of these students to "cut the rope and be free!"


Anonymous said...

It was a fantastic event indeed. Although I only made it to the events related to Sustainable Vision and Venture Well, those sessions were enough evidence of the remarkable job NCIIA is doing to encourage student entrepreneurship and creat actionable tools for young people to find their Go Button and push it from early on.
Great to meet all of the entrepreneurs and to spend some time in quality company! Many lessons to be brought and stories to be told to my colleagues back home in Colombia.

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