Whether you’re looking to start a company or enhance your entrepreneurial skills, the Rady School of Management supports students eager to develop innovative companies. A new position was created to connect students and alumni to the wealth of entrepreneurial resources located at UC San Diego and in San Diego – one of the top cities in the world for startups.
Karen Jensen, the former program manager for the California Institute for Innovation and Development (CIID), recently assumed the role as the Rady School’s Entrepreneurship Advocate. Inspired by Rady students’ desire to launch and sustain businesses, the position was created to support students in every step of their entrepreneurial journeys.
“We have an ever-growing list of startups launched here at Rady,” Jensen said. “Our goal is to take these startups and get them beyond the campus environment, connect them with resources and community mentors, and continue to help them grow and flourish once they leave Rady.”
Jensen will also organize the Triton Innovation Challenge, a competition that spotlights commercially promising, environmentally focused technologies generated by UC San Diego’s students, staff and faculty. She will also coordinate mentorship breakfasts designed to connect startups with local industry leaders. She will continue to provide operational support to mystartupXX accelerator program dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented students and alumni at UC San Diego looking to get involved with startups.
San Diego is a hub for startups and innovation, and Jensen is leveraging her position to serve as a liaison between the Rady School and the San Diego startup community. America’s Finest City is home to a number of prestigious accelerators, clubs, conventions and events dedicated to connecting top talent with individuals eager to break into the booming startup scene.
“I’m looking forward to reaching out and connecting with leading entrepreneurs in our local community,” Jensen said. “One of the most exciting aspects of this positions for me is to identify resources for our startups so that we can connect them and watch them continue to grow. There are so many opportunities and assets here in San Diego that will be extremely useful to our students’ startups.”
In addition to connecting Rady School students with the local community, Jensen is working to get them more involved with the talented and innovative students across the UC San Diego campus. With a number of plans in place to increase collaborations with the brilliant minds of students in the Jacobs School of Engineering, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and beyond, Jensen’s priority is to ensure Rady School students have access to a diverse network of talented peers.
“There are so many intelligent and driven students here on campus with a diverse set of skills,” Jensen said. “We would be remised to not tap into the talent we have right here on campus. I’m making it a priority to work to forge more connections on campus to see what kind of partnerships and collaborative efforts we can create.”
Since Jensen assumed the role, she has been involved in launching the new DRIvE program – Developing Rady Innovative Entrepreneurs, a mentorship initiative that connects current students with industry leaders who serve as coaches to help guide startup founders during their entrepreneurial journey. Although the program is in its infancy, DRIvE has already been able to connect six student-run companies with 25 mentors.
“The idea is that the startups participating in the DRIvE program aren’t just idea or pre-prototype — these startups are launched and have been able to secure some amount of funding,” Jensen said, “DRIvE provides mentorship opportunities to help these startups to the next level so that they can continue to grow.”
As Jensen settles into her new position, she looks forward to supporting students and helping them achieve their goals.
“My favorite aspect of this position is that I have the opportunity to work with students one-on-one,” Jensen said. “I admire their ambition and dedication and I am constantly impressed with their innovations. It’s an honor to be able to help them out during their journey, and I am so excited to be a part of their mission.”