Maine Business School engaging enterprising students in the state's
In an introductory course in finance,
college students typically spend a lot of time reviewing case studies of
Fortune 500 companies, poring over balance sheets and stock options.
But what about the finances of small and midsize businesses? The
principles of finance are the same, whether you're talking about a major
corporation or a company with 20 employees. However, the financing
options are not the same.
"Small and midsize businesses are the future of the Maine economy, and
students need to be prepared to be part of it," says Daniel Innis, dean
of the University of Maine College of Business, Public Policy and
In an ongoing effort to address the state's economic development needs,
an emphasis on entrepreneurship is something that will soon be woven
into the curricula of the Maine Business School. Coursework for UMaine
business students will include studies of smaller companies that don't
have all the short- and long-term financing options of the Fortune 500
companies, and need other mechanisms to continue operation.
Students will be encouraged to think big, even when they've got just a
kernel of a new idea. Above all, they need to understand the viability
and importance of small and midsize businesses.
That's particularly pertinent when integrating business with R&D
"We will build an entrepreneurial element into many if not all of our
programs, and we're working in collaboration with other colleges on
campus to bring entrepreneurial thinking and activity into their
classrooms," says Innis, who joined the UMaine community this academic
year from Ohio University.
"We want students thinking of the transition from the lab to the
business world. There's an awful lot of research on this campus and the
business school has an important role in helping to get those ideas to
Innis and other UMaine academic leaders look to Northern Ireland as a
model in entrepreneurial education. "Ireland tried to transform its
economy by instilling an entrepreneur mind-set in the culture," Innis
says. "It underwent a change in education so that young, creative people
were always thinking about commercializing an idea or invention. We want
to explore how they did it, with an eye to doing some of the same things
From his college, Innis says lessons in the classroom and in the
community will have a strong focus on commercialization of R&D efforts.
But the entrepreneurial training also will address the need for existing
ideas and products to have better business plans, and for old ideas to
get "new twists."
"Much of the economic future of the state is in taking the areas we do
well in and finding new applications to build a business around," Innis
The William S. Cohen Center for International Policy and Commerce in the
college is expected to serve as a centerpiece for many of the economic
outreach efforts, Innis says.
"We need to be a college that is in touch with the economic realities
and needs of the state in terms of creating an environment that promotes
growth," Innis says.
by Margaret Nagle
for more stories from this issue of UMaine Today Magazine.