3 Questions with an Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Jessica Huber brings both passion and experience to her position as the 2012-13 faculty entrepreneur-in-residence at Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. An associate professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences, Huber developed a new technology called SpeechVive, a device that cues patients with Parkinson's disease to speak more loudly and clearly. And now as a leader of entrepreneurs, she's hit the ground running — developing a group of "entrepreneurial liaisons" from a variety of Purdue departments and units who can serve as resources for both faculty and students.
1 What's your main role as the entrepreneur-in-residence?
I'm here to help faculty, students and staff manage the entrepreneurship process. If they're wondering where to go or who to call, they can ask me. I'm also helping to build a community around entrepreneurship at Purdue. I was a member of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy at Burton Morgan for two years. That program taught me a great deal about the entrepreneurship process. There's a certificate program in entrepreneurship that can help put undergraduate students on that path. And there are some graduate-level courses that can assist graduate students in learning about entrepreneurship. In December we launched the Entrepreneurial Ambassadors Program, which is a group of faculty dedicated to being the first line of assistance to other faculty and students interested in entrepreneurship.
2 Why should universities be in the business of business?
It is extremely important that we, as researchers, translate our findings into practice, whether that is through for-profit or nonprofit commercialization. Purdue has demonstrated a strong commitment to commercialization efforts through the development of resources like the Burton D. Morgan Center and Discovery Park. I'm committed to helping faculty and students who need help finding resources to develop their ideas.
3 Purdue made news this year by announcing that student inventors will own their own inventions. Why is this important?
That's right. If students develop something as part of a class project, then they own the intellectual property rights. That motivates the students and I think it's important for them to own their own creations. Purdue does so much to promote entrepreneurship. The results of this focus on entrepreneurship are evident in the sophisticated pitches and plans at the Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition, for example. There are a lot of student groups working toward the same business goals. So we try to get them together to share ideas and prototypes.