Wells Fargo Provides $200,000 to Support Entrepreneurship Program

Thursday, August 5 2010

MOSCOW, Idaho – Vandal Innovation and Enterprise Works, or VIEW, is the signature entrepreneurship education program at the University of Idaho. The College of Business and Economics leads this program, which is open to the entire university community, with the goal of moving ideas and innovations developed in the classrooms and laboratories into the marketplace.

The program’s emphasis on educating students to be active in the economy of Idaho attracted financial support from Wells Fargo in the form of a $50,000 gift in each of the past two years. Recently, the bank’s Idaho Region office doubled its commitment to the program. The Wells Fargo Foundation will now provide $100,000 a year for the next two years.

"Wells Fargo is pleased to invest in the VIEW program and its focus on providing students 'real world' experience,'" said Dana Reddington, Idaho Regional Banking president. "We support the vision of developing tomorrow's entrepreneurs, who will drive the success of traditional and emerging organizations and will build a diversified infrastructure for a modern Idaho."

At Idaho, VIEW is a blend of education, innovation and competition.
  • The university now offers a 12-credit entrepreneurship certificate that is open to all students, regardless of major. The certificate is suited for the non-business major who desires to learn the basics of starting a business.
  • The Wells Fargo Speaker Series brings successful entrepreneurs to campus to share their real-world experiences in developing an innovative business solution or effectively bring a product to market.
  • In the Wells Fargo Elevator Pitch Competition, student innovators give a two-minute overview of their bright idea and the business model that can take it to the next level. Students learn to pitch their concept in the time frame of an average elevator ride.
  • The annual VIEW Business Plan Competition features teams of students out to win a share of $35,000 in cash prizes. The teams develop a business plan for a product, process, service or technology idea, and present the plan and receive feedback from a panel of judges.

The business plan competition has led to a number of success stories.

At the 2010 competition last spring, student team Ante Updates received first place in the innovative ventures track for a Web-based rewards club and integrated customer relationship management system for small and medium-sized businesses. Ante Updates has been accepted at a seed incubator in Seattle.

Another student team, Febris Inc., presented a business plan for the Febris QVET diagnostic test that was developed in University of Idaho laboratories. The test can detect viral infections in animals not showing signs of disease. The team took second place in the Innovative Venture Track category and received a $6,000 prize. The team then went on to win the graduate division at the Washington State University business plan competition and tied for third place in a competition at the University of Washington. They were the first team from Idaho or WSU to ever earn a top three finish at UW. The team now is in negotiations with a company for a possible licensing deal that would lead to the products’ commercial development.

Another product developed through research at the University of Idaho was the subject of the business plan for a team of Idaho and WSU students and their company Lucid Diagnostics. The team promoted a service for hospitals, clinics and research labs to better identify bacterial vaginosis (BV) and help improve women’s health efforts. The team earned first place honors at Idaho and WSU competitions, then was a finalist at both the 2010 World’s Best Technology Showcase in Texas and the University of Texas business plan competition.

Wayne Schneider, Wells Fargo senior vice president and the company’s director of Idaho Business and Private Banking, has seen the entrepreneurial excitement and impact of VIEW first hand – he has served as a judge for the Business Plan Competition.

“It is rewarding to see fresh new ideas articulated in a professional manner that encourage investors to fund the students’ proposals,” Schneider said. “It’s clear to me that these entrepreneurial students are able to compete successfully at any level, anywhere in the country.

As a bank, we are an economic catalyst for the communities we serve, so we appreciate the fact these young entrepreneurs will add to the economic prosperity of the communities in which they choose to locate their businesses.”

The financial support provided by Wells Fargo Bank will allow VIEW to offer a new program this fall to take students out into northern Idaho communities to work with businesses. Students will form business consulting teams and work with small businesses to do market analysis, and create business and marketing plans.

“Wells Fargo is much more than a donor – they are a true partner of the University of Idaho and the College of Business and Economics,” said Mike McCollough, director of VIEW and associate professor of marketing. “This gift is a great example of that partnership. Their gift will not only allow the university to further entrepreneurship education, but in partnership with Wells Fargo, it will enhance economic development in Idaho.”

VIEW also has become an integral part of the College of Business and Economics. It was one of the “hands on” programs that earned the college a best practices rating for experiential learning in its most recent re-accreditation.

Jack Morris, dean of the College of Business and Economics, is excited about the VIEW program and the partnership with Wells Fargo.

“New business development is critical to a growing, vibrant economy in the state, and the College of Business and Economics is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Wells Fargo in this effort.”

VIEW program events this fall include the Wells Fargo Elevator Pitch Competition and a Wells Fargo Speaker Series presentation. Dates and details are being finalized.

For more information about VIEW, visit www.uidaho.edu/view.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.