Entrepreneurs and Innovators From Around the World Come to DU
Project X-ITE hosts Social Entrepreneurship Summit
For one day students and members of the University of Denver community had the opportunity to hear from businesses from around the world about the importance of social entrepreneurship.
“The world’s problems can no longer be solved by politics or business alone,” said Erik Mitisek, executive director of DU’s Project X-ITE and chief innovation officer for the state of Colorado. “It takes all of us — companies, nonprofits, the public sector — to really collaborate and think creatively on how to solve some of the world’s biggest issues.”
On Nov. 11 Project X-ITE hosted the one-day Social Entrepreneurship Summit. It offered an opportunity to expose the hundreds of people in the audience to domestic and international companies from the public, private and cause sectors to explore strategies, resources and financing for innovative and socially driven business models.
“This is really part of the institutional DNA of the University,” said Brent Chrite, dean of the Daniels College of Business. “We have a long and rich legacy of active, reciprocal and meaningful engagement. We recognize that the contemporary problems for which we are preparing our students for the 21st century do not rest within a single discipline.”
Project X-ITE serves as that convening platform on the DU campus. It’s a cross-disciplinary initiative focused on entrepreneurship, innovation and technology, and it brings together the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Sturm College of Law and the Daniels College of Business.
“Whether you are an art major, a history major, a finance major, or an engineer, Project X-ITE is really a unifying singular platform that you can come together and engage and fulfill not only your own personal aspirations, but to impact broader human conditions,” Chrite says.
The daylong summit featured multiple fireside chats, roundtables and large group discussions. Topics discussed ranged from social innovation, to funding a new business, and to the importance of public-private partnerships. The final discussion of the day featured Matt Flannery, co-founder and former CEO of kiva.org. He started the charity 10 years ago as an online lending marketplace for people in developing countries.
Flannery offered current students a rousing message: “Right out of college is a great time to try something crazy. A startup is a great experiment to see what you are passionate about, what do you like to do and what kind of work you want to do for the next 40, 50 or 60 years.”
Flannery also said if he were able to go back in time, he would have a message for himself. “My big takeaway after starting a few social enterprises would be telling myself to be bolder than I was. Just do it, stop thinking about it, just go for it.”