University partners with Uber for entrepreneurship

Strategic collaboration to include investments in UMD’s Startup Shell to support student-generated innovation

innovation-UMDThe University of Maryland and Uber, a technology company connecting riders to drivers through its mobile app, recently announced a unique partnership to foster, support and advance student-driven innovations and technology.

The partnership will provide investment, including $25,000 in the Startup Shell, a student-run coworking space and incubator at the University of Maryland. Uber will award investor grants to student-created companies over the next two years and will engage students through a variety of unique business competitions.

Additionally, mentors will be made available to students throughout the year and an innovation council will be formed to crowdsource ideas from students, faculty, and staff, and to explore research and development opportunities, as well as transportation solutions. Uber plans to experiment with on demand services for students on campus as well.

(Next page: Details of the partnership)

“Uber is a classic example that everyone uses when discussing the innovation economy,” said Startup Shell co-director Mackenzie Burnett. Co-director Jeff Hilnbrand agreed, adding, “They recognize that collaboration, creativity and community are key elements of Startup Shell, and partnerships like this one make us even more proud to call ourselves Terps.”

There are a number of projects in the pipeline that reinforce President Wallace D. Loh’s commitment to position the University of Maryland as one of the most innovative research institutions in the country and College Park as a thriving university town. Other projects include the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation; the reimagined Cole Field House which will house the Terrapin Performance Center and Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; the St. John Learning & Teaching Center; the A. James Clark Hall to advance biomedical and engineering technologies, and a new, four-star hotel and conference center at the entrance of the university.

“Partnering with Uber furthers our mission to position the University of Maryland as a leading public research institution, equipping students with top-notch entrepreneurial skills and opportunities,” said Ken Ulman, a UMD strategist for economic development. “We are thrilled that Uber recognizes the opportunity to solve challenges in College Park and to engage our highly motivated students in the process of moving our innovation economy forward,” said Ulman.

“The spirit of collaboration and entrepreneurship being fostered at the University of Maryland, especially student-led and driven, is truly something special,” said Zuhairah Washington, general manager of Uber DC. “The University of Maryland’s mantra of pursuing fearless ideas is a great complement to Uber’s fearless approach to problem solving in the 21st century.”

UMD prides itself as a pioneer in educating the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, ranked as one of the nation’s top schools for entrepreneurship and innovation. In the Princeton Review’s 2015 “Best Colleges for Entrepreneurs” list, UMD ranks No. 9 among public schools and No. 21 overall for its undergraduate program. The university was also recognized as No. 1 among public universities No. 2 overall for tech entrepreneurship by the 2013 StartEngine College Index.

The Uber partnership announcement comes just weeks before the University of Maryland kicks off its 30 Days of EnTERPreneurship celebration, which showcases the university’s commitment to fearless ideas through a series of events and competitions that ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of the campus community.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione