When you hear the word “collision,” the first thing that may come to mind is a violent crash, so you may be surprised to learn that Fuqua is striving to create more collisions — “creative collisions,” to be exact.

In the entrepreneurial world, creative collisions are a way for people with different perspectives to come together and generate fresh ideas and insights, and, on occasion, can result in sparks that ignite fires that change the world. 

At Duke, many more creative collisions will be made possible thanks to Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship (Duke I&E), a new partnership between Fuqua and Duke Interdisciplinary Studies that provides curricular and co-curricular programming to students across Duke. As the director of Duke I&E—and someone who has taught thousands of innovators and entrepreneurs—I am passionate about the impact that’s possible when students who are empowered with an entrepreneurial mindset and skills can make these types of connections.

Duke I&E has experienced incredible growth since it launched a decade ago. Today, Duke I&E offers the university’s second most popular undergraduate certificate, a clear indication of the appetite for entrepreneurship skills among the undergraduate population. But until now, it has lacked a central physical hub on campus.

Now, with a permanent home at Fuqua, Duke I&E will serve as a place where Fuqua students frequently cross paths with Duke students studying engineering, computer science, public policy, and beyond. Students from across the university will exchange ideas in Fuqua’s classrooms, on working teams, in Duke I&E’s new innovation hub (opening in 2023), or just passing in the hallway.

This partnership ensures that all Duke students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship will get the best of what Duke has to offer: interdisciplinary experiential learning opportunities, collaboration with peers and faculty from across the university, and access to cutting-edge research and facilities. Duke’s strong curricular and co-curricular programs in innovation and entrepreneurship will be scaled in a way that ensures their ongoing high quality, and they will be informed by leading faculty research in innovation and entrepreneurship.

For Fuqua students, Duke I&E’s goal is not necessarily to produce more entrepreneurs who start new ventures—although we will certainly serve those students with the education and resources to succeed—but to equip tomorrow’s business leaders with the mindset and tools they need to flourish. With education in innovation and entrepreneurship, students become better critical observers. They become more creative, able to generate novel solutions to difficult problems. They become more disciplined, more resourceful, and more inclined to take action. And they become more likely and better able to affect meaningful change — not only in entrepreneurial endeavors, but in established organizations throughout the profit and non-profit world.

A core tenet of Duke I&E is cross-disciplinary engagement. By including students from a mix of academic interests — environmental engineering, computer science, business and law, to name a few — teams are better able to solve problems and address issues from a broader and deeper perspective.

Exposure to other disciplines also allows you to see new opportunities, to spark your own ideas, and even to join a team of founders. Toward that end, we will be hosting matchmaking events that allow student founders trying to form startup teams to pitch ideas to other students from across campus. These teams will be assigned mentors to advance their ideas. We will also hold lunch-and-learns where teams can share information with each other and mentors. And our New Ventures courses will continue to provide enrichment opportunities to students across Duke.

As Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding has noted, “Innovation and entrepreneurship play a central role in realizing the promise that business offers to address today’s toughest societal challenges and greatest opportunities.”

Duke chose Fuqua to be the central hub for Duke I&E because we are best equipped to help cultivate Duke students’ entrepreneurial spirit, mindset, and skills. By housing Duke I&E at Fuqua, we create the ideal environment for vital and serendipitous creative collisions.