Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

$100,000 as a Sophomore!

August 10, 2011

Jim Danielson is working on building a more powerful and efficient motor for electric vehicles. He has already electrified a Porsche 924S, including power electronics of his own design. He is currently co-launching Makt Systems LLC, a start-up to commercialize his research and design. Before becoming a Fellow, Jim co-founded the Electric Vehicle Club here at Purdue and was president of Purdue Innovations, the our entrepreneurship club.

As the first members of the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, the Fellows will pursue innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship, and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow. During their two-year tenure, each Fellow will receive $100,000 from the Thiel Foundation as well as mentorship from the Foundation’s network of tech entrepreneurs and innovators. The project areas for this class of fellows include biotech, career development, economics and finance, education, energy, information technology, mobility, robotics, and space.

“The Fellows’ creativity, intelligence, and leadership were captivating,” said James O’Neill, the head of the Thiel Foundation. “They’re challenging the authority of the present and the familiar. We had planned to award twenty fellowships, but the number of outstanding candidates far exceeded our expectations. It was challenging to select only twenty-four, and impossible to pick only twenty. We’re excited to be working with them, and we hope they will help young people everywhere realize that you don’t need credentials to launch a company that disrupts the status quo.”

More than four hundred people younger than twenty applied to be Fellows. Applications arrived from nearly two dozen countries, and from nearly two hundred high schools, junior colleges, community colleges, four-year colleges, and graduate schools. Many applicants never went to college, had already stopped out of school, were already working, or had already launched their own company. Many had a long personal history of entrepreneurship. They applied at a time of increasing debate about the cost and value of college and student debt.

Information about applications for the next round of fellows will be available at 20under20.org in late October.

From the Thiel Foundation

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