As a major driver of Clemson University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the College of Business is putting in place building blocks that will bring national recognition to the school’s development of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and business innovators.
A significant block in Clemson’s entrepreneurial foundation was laid recently with the establishment of the Phyfer Innovation Hub in the business school’s MBA program at Greenville ONE. The Hub was borne out of a generous $2.5 million Cornerstone Partner gift from university trustee and ’93 business alum Cheri Phyfer and husband, Ben.
“The Phyfers’ generosity is already having a profound impact on Upstate companies that are benefiting from their employees bringing innovation to the workplace, and connecting entrepreneurs with business mentors,” said Greg Pickett, director of MBA programs. “The Phyfer Innovation Hub is designed to facilitate and communicate innovation in thought and practice.”
The Phyfers earmarked $380,000 of their Cornerstone gift to the Hub, which is housed on the eighth floor of Greenville ONE, home to the College of Business’ rapidly growing MBA program.
“Cheri and I are excited about the ideas that will be spawned from the Phyfer Innovation Hub. We love the specialization of innovation and entrepreneurship Clemson is bringing to the MBA program, in addition to its core curriculum,” Ben Phyfer said. “The Hub will be a great resource and venue for students and faculty to collaborate and share ideas.”
Pickett said the Hub’s benefits are already being felt by students, faculty and regional companies. And, more opportunities are on the horizon to provide major employers with training and support for the next generation of innovative leaders in their companies.
“Among its many other functions, the Phyfer Innovation Hub is currently working with a company to provide its employees with transformational leadership training,” Pickett added. “We are connecting our successful entrepreneurial alums and innovative leaders with the company’s executive team to provide a communication forum on how to lead their next generation of leaders.”
Already, the Hub has more than a dozen podcasts scheduled through the “The Business of Innovation” brand, slated to begin airing in early July. In it, CEOs and accomplished entrepreneurs share best practices in a variety of industries. “The podcasts will be widely distributed and, in addition to sharing best practices, they will be a vehicle for the college and MBA program to build our brand as a leader in innovative thought,” Pickett said.
The Hub is also sponsoring a faculty learning community where new classroom content is developed. These educator enrichment opportunities will be held quarterly and will aid faculty in helping one another develop innovative and business-relevant classroom content.
MBA students will have expanded access to centers of innovation, such as Atlanta, through travel support provided by the Hub. The funding will expose students to locations where innovation is transforming industry.
The gift is also supporting an annual Phyfer Innovation Award, presented this year to Matthew Gevaert, bioengineering ’03, CEO and co-founder of KIYATEC, a start-up that predicts cancer patient response to drug therapies.
Pickett said infusing innovation into all aspects of business has become a key priority for companies, and that the Phyfer Innovation Hub will play a significant role in the MBA program addressing that marketplace need.
“The Phyfers’ gift will have a meaningful impact on a cross-section of stakeholders in the entrepreneurial environment of Clemson University and Upstate businesses,” Pickett said. “The communication and collaboration of innovative thought and practice will be felt by students, faculty and business partners alike.”
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