A 7,000 mile journey to creative thinking

IEI program provides a different approach to learning

7,068 miles to fulfill a dream. Based solely on the recommendation of her neighbor, Jieyi Xu traveled from Shanghai to Kansas City to become a student in UMKC’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IEI) program.

Jieyi Xu believes that for students interested in entrepreneurial or innovative thinking, the IEI program is the place to learn and excel. Xu is an IEI entrepreneurship-emphasis undergraduate student at the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration.

The goal of the program is to inspire future entrepreneurs while becoming the world’s leading research and education institute for entrepreneurship and innovation. Michael Song, Ph.D., executive director, IEI, created the program in January 2006 and is among the top 1 percent of all researchers in the field of technology and innovation. Song also is the Charles N. Kimball, MRI/Missouri Endowed Chair in Management of Technology and Professor of Marketing.

The program has seven full-time tenured and/or tenure-track faculty and seven adjunct faculty, who provide real-world knowledge, research and teaching experience – in areas including strategy, innovation, entrepreneurship and product development. The world-class research accomplishments of Song and the IEI faculty provide a unique feature of the program through the integration of research into the classroom and programs.

The UMKC IEI program is interdisciplinary, encouraging enrollment from students campus-wide and across all program levels. More than 800 UMKC students have taken at least one entrepreneurship class since the program was created. Currently, IEI has 195 students engaged in entrepreneurship degree-seeking programs, with an additional 334 students taking classes while enrolled in other academic units on campus.

One of IEI’s premier programs is the Regnier Family Foundations Venture Creation Challenge (VCC), which encourages students to create new venture concepts – taking their ideas from the whiteboard to the boardroom – and presenting the ideas to local investors, entrepreneurs and venture professionals.

In the past three years, 21 ventures have been created by IEI students or through IEI programs. For a list of 2009 winners and their ventures, see Venture Creation Challenge.

Jieyi Xu recently shared her experience as an IEI student. She acknowledges that the decision to enter into the program was the right one for her for a number of reasons – the willingness of the leaders to “see you succeed,” the ability to develop your personal leadership style, and the skill of working as part of a team.

Posted: September 22, 2009


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“The program is about entrepreneurial thinking. It’s about how to use innovation to solve problems.”

Jieyi Xu
Senior, Business Administration