Applications are now open for the Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, a weeklong training program for undergraduate and graduate students that equips them with the skills and knowledge they need to start and fund their own health sciences ventures. In its third year, the camp has propelled dozens of college students into their post-graduate careers, and it recently won an Innovations in Research and Research Education Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The camp is a joint initiative of the Conductor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), BioVentures and Arkansas INBRE.
“This camp is a proven success, and we have seen tremendous outcomes from the program,” says Nancy Gray, Ph.D., President of BioVentures. “In less than three years, we’ve seen this Boot Camp go from a concept to a nationally award-winning program, and we’re so excited about continuing our collaboration to make these learning opportunities available to students in 2019.”
At the Camp, students from around the state convene on the University of Central Arkansas campus for one week to go through an intensive, hands-on training program in which they work in teams to develop and vet new venture ideas in the health sciences space. The students receive a crash course in new venture creation, patent filing, building an entrepreneurial team, funding a venture and more. The curriculum also offers leadership and recreational opportunities to the students.
Students at the camp work closely with mentors from the University of Central Arkansas, the business community, UAMS and Conway Regional Medical Center, which invites students to come into the hospital and conduct actual customer discovery research during the Boot Camp. The students come in contact with nearly 70 mentors and experts throughout the course of the week.
“This Boot Camp is an amazing program that empowers students to think entrepreneurially and start their own ventures,” said Kim Lane, CEO of the Conductor. “Every year, we see this camp have a transformational impact in students’ lives — it teaches them to see the world differently and think critically about problems in the health sciences space. For many students, this is their first foray into entrepreneurship. This type of training has the power to change the trajectory of students’ post-graduate careers.”
To date, the Camp has graduated over 50 students from 15 colleges and universities around the state. Many of the Boot Camp graduates have pursued entrepreneurial initiatives as a result of the Camp.
“The Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp was one of the turning points in my college career. It’s what got me interested in entrepreneurship and it opened the doors to a lot of wonderful opportunities and people that I would not have had otherwise. I truly consider it one of the best experiences I’ve had in college,” said Katherine Bowman, a student at Harding University.
The winning team of the 2018 Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp was comprised of students representing Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. The group developed a business proposal for Uber Rx, a service that delivers medications to patients before discharge from a hospital or clinic.
Kyle Fouts, a member of the winning team and ASU graduate, said “The 2018 Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp was a week of high-intensity, learning-focused, hard work. I value that experience because it allowed me to learn outside of my area of study and make great connections.”
Boot Camp alumni have received numerous accolades in the entrepreneurial space. Two student teams that graduated from the 2017 cohort went on to compete in the 2017 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition. One team won the first-place prize of $25,000, and the other won the Undergraduate Innovation Award of $5,000 at the competition. An alumni team also participated in the Regional I-Corps program in Austin, TX, following the Boot Camp.
“We are thrilled by the outcomes of the Health Sciences Boot Camp,” said Jeff Standridge, Chief Catalyst of the Conductor. “This camp shows students that there are viable career paths to entrepreneurship, and it connects them with the resources and mentors they need to launch an actual venture.”
The residential boot camp will be held May 19-24 at the University of Central Arkansas. The camp is all-expenses-paid for accepted students, and is funded through UAMS, BioVentures and the Conductor. Eligible students must have completed their sophomore year of college. Space permitting, there will spots available for immediate graduates and graduate students.
The application period begins on December 6, 2018, and candidates may apply at https://goo.gl/forms/