The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is one of five finalists in a worldwide business competition.
The Triple E Awards: Entrepreneurship and Engagement Excellence in Higher Education have chosen the CIE, part of the Gary W. Rollins College of Business, as a finalist in the “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Team of the Year” category.
Sponsored by the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities in Germany, most of the awards are divided into four regions—Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa—but CIE is in a category that encompasses the entire globe.
“It means a lot of attention. We had competitors from all over the world,” said Dr. Thomas Lyons, Clarence E. Harris Chair of Excellence in entrepreneurship and professor of marketing and entrepreneurship in the College of Business.
Triple E Awards recognize business departments, labs and centers at colleges and universities worldwide for excellence in promoting exceptional entrepreneurship and innovation programs.
First-, second- and third-place awards will be presented in Barcelona, Spain, during ceremonies taking place June 26-29.
Among the previous finalists in the awards are the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Jonkoping University in Sweden, Ozyegin University in Turkey, the University of Manchester in England and Haddad Entrepreneurship Institute in Portugal.
“This international recognition validates the innovative approach of our center’s activities focused on building entrepreneurial skill sets among our students,” said College of Business Dean Robert Dooley. “I am immensely proud of our entrepreneurship program and faculty and the work they are doing.”
In its initial proposal to the Triple E Awards, the CIE noted its connection with students and faculty across departments at UTC, Lyons said.
Any student in any major can take entrepreneurship as a minor “to give them some background in how to run their own business. So that’s one way that we reach out,” explained Lyons.
The CIE Hatch It Lab, which has a variety of equipment, including a heat press, 3D printer, computer-controlled sewing machines and a laser cutter, has been used by students in such widely varied courses as botany, criminal justice and interior architecture and design.
CIE also works with the Chattanooga business community, including collaborations with such organizations as the Urban Vision Initiative, the Company Lab (CO.LAB) and the Chattanooga Smart Community Initiative.
Lyons said those connections were part of the CIE’s proposal to the Triple E Awards.
“We showed them that, ‘Hey, we’re doing this on campus, but we’re doing this out in the community, too,’” he said. “When I go out and I talk to people in the community, we’re seen as a major player with our commercialization work.”