Drexel: Ahead of the Curve?
This essay is the first in the series Drexel students write about Drexel innovations
Drexel: Ahead of the Curve?
by Dwight Carter and Paul Freeman
Drexel University has proven to be a leader in technology, research and entrepreneurship. Through our research, we’ve found that innovation does not only exist in new inventions but rather, invention exists in delivering the value of an invention or adding value to an already existing product. The difference between invention and innovation is a key concept in understanding Drexel’s role in assisting and nurturing innovation. The institution has a rich tradition of being proactive in research, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. Coming through Drexel, the world has seen everything from the invention of the barcode to Dr. Min Jun Kim’s research on “harnessing the power of bacterial motors for engineering applications.”
“Entrepreneur Magazine recently ranked Drexel University among the top universities in the category of entrepreneurship emphasis.” Dean George Tsetsekos appreciated this honor because it highlighted the proficiency of the LeBow College of Business and the Laurence A. Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship in Technology.
Innovation and small business empowerment is what makes America special. Drexel embraces both with open arms by having an outstanding number of resources. Behind Drexel’s success is a system of talented individuals. Two of the leaders that stand out are Mark Loschiavo and Jay Bhatt who both play a big role in helping and motivating students to think about innovation.
Drexel is fortunate enough to have Jay Bhatt as the Engineering Librarian. He is world renowned for his engineering blog and holds multiple degrees in Library Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Education. Mr. Bhatt manages engineering research guides, online tutorials and two engineering blogs to help students learn to find and use various engineering resources that Drexel University Libraries subscribe to. In addition to all of this, he has presented at several national and international conferences about information and research skills of engineering students.
In reference to innovation, Mr. Bhatt emphasizes that early stages of an idea begin with research and development. When asked about the importance of research technology, he responded saying, “It is very, very, very important…for creating jobs and also for developing a competitive advantage.” (Bhatt)
He has done such a great job that, in 2003, he was presented with Drexel University’s Harold Myers Distinguished Service Award for his efforts to aid faculty and students in their quest to find pertinent information. Mr. Bhatt currently holds office hours at the Baiada Center to assist budding entrepreneurs in research as it pertains to innovation. Business Librarian, Emily Missner motivated Mr. Bhatt to hold office hours to assist budding entrepreneurs in research as it pertains to innovation. Emily has also been instrumental in providing crucial business research help.
Once the entrepreneur thinks they have an innovative idea or product, the next step is getting it in the hands of consumers. Drexel University’s Mark Loschiavo is an excellent resource for entrepreneurs who wish to establish a business and market a product. Mr. Loschiavo holds a B.S. and M.S. in Economics from the University of Kentucky. He also started a company called Akcelerant which assists businesses with their start-up and incubation time. He also worked 15 years at the IBM Corporation and serves on many entrepreneurial boards. Currently he is the executive director of the Baiada Center and his track record proves him to be highly qualified. Mr. Loschiavo is skilled in the areas of manufacturing, marketing and strategic management. Having mentors with the credentials of Mr. Loschiavo is crucial to new start-ups.
Currently, Drexel University’s Baiada Center houses many new start-ups including Ridaroo and CityRyde. Both companies are extremely innovative but what’s interesting is the “level” of innovation that the companies have accomplished.
As previously mentioned by Aksel Gungor, Ridaroo provides software that allows institutions to set up their own network that makes it easy to find carpools. Ridaroo exemplifies one of the most important principles of innovation. They didn’t invent the concept of carpooling but they changed the way people go about finding carpools. They saw the way people were doing something and said, “There’s got to be a better way.” (Gungor) Mr. Gungor also recognizes the importance of having mentors like Mark Loschiavo at the Baiada Center to provide insight and assistance in start-ups.
Jason Meizner and Tim Ericson, founders of CityRyde, began with the intention of starting up a bike sharing business but after research, focus and execution they came up with the brilliant idea of providing software for already existing bike sharing companies which allows them to keep track of bike use and thus, transfer them into carbon credits that can be sold to companies all over the world. It is this type of innovative thinking that sets Drexel apart from other universities.
Recently President Barack Obama said, “[As a nation] we need to out-innovate, outeducate and outbuild the rest of the world.” (Obama) From the invention of the barcode to the innovation being created by founders of Ridaroo and CityRyde, Drexel University has always nurtured innovation. So with America’s direction being steered more and more towards entrepreneurship and innovation, one may argue that Drexel is one step ahead of the curve.
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