Alumnus Charlie Horn with Horn Program staff members, Tricia Monnig, program administrator; Stefanie Spatola, assistant director; and Dan Freeman, director, at the Venture Development Center opening reception on Feb. 11.

Open for business

Horn Program in Entrepreneurship reveals new Venture Development Center

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4:03 p.m., Feb. 18, 2014--In its latest commitment to serving the University of Delaware’s entrepreneurial community, the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship has opened its doors to a brand new Venture Development Center (VDC).

The newly constructed space at 132 E. Delaware Ave. was revealed Feb. 11 to more than 150 invited guests who represented a cross-section of the entrepreneurial ecosystem: entrepreneurs, inventors, venture capitalists, service providers, government officials, community leaders and business leaders, as well as University leaders, students and faculty members. 

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Delaware Gov. Jack Markell called the new center a great mechanism for teaching young people the skills of entrepreneurship and said the space and resources will enable people “try out their ideas, figure out what’s not working or what could be better.”

Markell also pointed out the importance of entrepreneurial activity to the state’s economy.

“We want you to stay in Delaware because you’re the kind of people we want to build this economy on for a long period of time,” said Markell. “We believe you’re going to find an economy here and a culture here that is very welcoming to entrepreneurship.”

Previously located at 196 S. College Ave., the relocation and expansion of the VDC is part of the Horn Initiative, made possible by 1975 alumnus Charles W. Horn and his wife, Patricia.

“The Horn family is honored and delighted to see the realization of the new Venture Development Center as the focal point of the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship,” said Horn of the opening. “Our vision to see UD lead a resurgence in entrepreneurship for the next generation of business leaders is off to a great start as the curriculum offerings have greatly expanded and engagement with the community has exceeded our expectations.”

Under the direction of Dan Freeman, also an associate professor of marketing in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the VDC provides a home for the UD entrepreneurial community. It aims to serve as a learning laboratory and business hatchery for students interested in starting and growing businesses; drive innovation for established companies; and develop market-based solutions to social problems.

The VDC also seeks to create connections between students, faculty, alumni and the broader entrepreneurial community.

Ben Rapkin, UD student and president of the E-Club, expressed excitement over the new space, calling it “both beautiful and functional.”

“I look forward to meeting business partners and clients in the co-working spaces, hearing from experienced entrepreneurs at the Free Lunch Friday events and exploring new ideas on the inspiration wall,” said Rapkin.

Austin Crouse, a junior in the College of Engineering, called the new space “beyond what I could have imagined,” and said he looks forward to working at the VDC to inspire creative business ideas.

The center will be open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for those actively working on entrepreneurial projects, but student licensees with well-developed business concepts and operating businesses will be able to access it 24 hours a day.

Another open house will be held for all faculty, staff and members of the UD community on Friday, Feb. 21, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event will feature beverages, tours of the facility and information about opportunities to engage with the Horn Program’s initiatives across campus. There is no cost to attend, but attendees are asked to RSVP via email to hornprogram@udel.edu.

Photos by Lane McLaughlin and courtesy of Loren Flores and Kimberly Blasnik

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