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MSB to Offer Entrepreneurship Minor in India

Innovative New Partnership Could Open More Doors Around the World

MSB KLE minor

The Manning School of Business' partnership with KLE Technological University is expanding beyond the Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation course to a new minor in entrepreneurship offered on the Hubli campus.

By Ed Brennen

Entrepreneurs are known for thinking outside the box. So it’s no surprise that when the Manning School of Business looked to build on its Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation partnership with KLE Technological University in Hubli, India, they got creative.

The result is an innovative new agreement in which the Manning School will offer its minor in entrepreneurship to KLE undergraduate students beginning in the spring of 2017 — in courses taught by KLE faculty on the Hubli campus.

“We’re very excited,” says MSB lecturer Ashwin Mehta, who helped create the study abroad exchange with KLE in 2013 that alternates between winter sessions in India and summer sessions in Lowell. “We have had collaborations with other institutions in the past, but this one is more tangible. These students can’t afford to pay for our courses, which is the classic model. This recognizes their local needs, while at the same time expanding UMass Lowell’s global engagement, which is one of the university’s strategic pillars.”

Mehta began brainstorming ways to expand the partnership with his KLE counterpart, Nitin Kulkarni, last January. When Kulkarni was on campus in June, they met with Vice Provost for Graduate and International Affairs and Strategy Kathy Carter and MSB interim Dean Scott Latham to formalize plans.

“This is an exciting initiative for us, and we look forward to expanding it even more in the future,” Latham says of the agreement, which is tentatively set to run for two years but could expand to six years.

“Emerging India is realizing the importance of entrepreneurship, and our collaboration with UMass Lowell reflects on our commitment to the changing needs of the country,” says Ashok Shettar, vice chancellor of KLE (formerly known as B. V. Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering & Technology). “With this collaboration we can bring instant relevance and credibility to our program offerings in the area of entrepreneurship education.”

Before KLE can offer the minor, its faculty members need to be trained in the five courses that comprise the program. So two MSB faculty members — Asst. Prof. of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Michael Ciuchta and Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Director Holly Butler — will travel to Hubli in late December with Mehta and the 14 UMass Lowell students participating in the two-week Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation course. 

While there, Ciuchta, Butler and Mehta will train KLE faculty and deliver three of the minor’s accelerated courses to students: Principles of Innovation, Managing Innovation and Global Entrepreneurship.

Then in the spring, a KLE faculty member will come to UMass Lowell and shadow faculty while also taking the minor’s remaining two courses: New Products Development and Starting a New Venture. 

“After that, they will take about six months to organize and get their classes scheduled and then launch the program in spring 2017,” says Mehta, who notes that UMass Lowell will provide the syllabi, course material, lecture videos, exams and assignments, while KLE faculty will provide the face-to-face instruction. The Manning School will receive an annual license fee from KLE, which will also compensate the MSB faculty traveling to Hubli.
“This is a significant achievement that will expand the university’s international footprint, and it’s the result of the hard work or Ashwin Mehta,” adds MSB Associate Dean Frank Andrews. “Ashwin has single-handedly built this international partnership into what has become a semi-annual educational experience for students all around the globe.”

Since its inception in 2014, more than 60 students from UMass Lowell and 90 from KLE have gone through the semi-annual Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation courses.

Mehta says the new agreement differs from existing models, such as the Master’s of Business Administration program offered to Japanese executives through Abitus, in that the learning takes place in the classroom and not online. Mehta hopes it opens the door for future faculty exchange and research collaboration.

“The future possibilities are substantial. KLE has a very good engineering program, and they are going to hire faculty who may come here for their Ph.D.,” Mehta says. “They can also send some students for a higher level program like the Master of Science in Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship.

“This can serve as a model so we can expand into other areas of the world, including South America and China.”

Noting that 50 percent of India’s population is age 25 and under, Shettar says it’s an important time for academic institutions there to teach entrepreneurship.

“The collaboration with UMass Lowell is a shot in the arm for KLE’s efforts in building enterprising youth at the regional level who can boost the local economy,” he says.

Kulkarni adds: “The student exchange programs we have with UMass Lowell have been very popular at KLE. I am expecting the minor in entrepreneurship will be equally popular. We are excited about this collaboration.”