A Big Carrot for Social Entrepreneurship

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Penn is a good place to get bitten by the entrepreneurship bug—and it just got better. In October, President Amy Gutmann announced the establishment of the Presidents’ Innovation Prize, which will award $100,000 to the Penn senior, or group of seniors, with the best idea for a for-profit commercial enterprise featuring a social component. The prize, which will be jointly administered by the Penn Center for Innovation and the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, will also include a $50,000 living stipend for each team member.

“Penn students and alumni have a long and impressive track record of being in the vanguard of innovation and of proving that social entrepreneurship and enterprise can remediate social ills around the globe,” Gutmann said in the announcement. “From chewing gum that helps fight dental disease in the developing world to eyeglasses whose sales support the donation of eyewear to people in need, they are building businesses on the idea that the generation of a profit can, and often should, be mutually supportive of social good.”

The prize is billed as the commercial analogue to the President’s Engagement Prizes, which bestow equivalent sums to seniors implementing non-profit programs [“Gazetteer,” May|June 2015].

Winners will also receive mentorship from Penn Center for Innovation staff and a year of dedicated space in the Pennovation Works facility at 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue. And of course they may also benefit from any number of other University programs designed to support business creation. From the Wharton Business Plan Competition and the Weiss Tech House PennVention Prize, to PennApps and the Milken-Penn GSE Business Plan Competition, today’s students have plenty of opportunities to become tomorrow’s titans.

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