Students Gain Global Perspective in Transatlantic Entrepreneurship Academy

International immersion program gives undergrads chance to compare European business practices

For future entrepreneurs, a global business perspective is essential to making the dream of transforming a startup into a worldwide organization a reality.

To provide students with a hands-on opportunity to study the world’s latest entrepreneurial models and strategies, the Montclair State University Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and the University’s Global Education Center have partnered to launch the Transatlantic Entrepreneurship Academy, a semester-long immersion experience that includes an eight-day trip to Graz, Austria’s second-largest city.

As part of the program, 17 Montclair State students studied at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Applied Business Studies at the University of Graz – Austria’s second-largest entrepreneurship program and a longtime partner of Montclair State – during Spring Break.

Learning European startup models and their similarities and differences to American business philosophies, Montclair State students work with Austrian undergraduates, creating an interactive, team-based model that teaches students how to work with people from different countries and cultural backgrounds.

Twenty Austrian students then traveled to Montclair State in late April for a week of academic activities as part of the spring 2017 semester’s program. Alongside their American counterparts and under the direction of business faculty members Jason Frasca and Iain Kerr, the students from both sides explored “Innovation: Between Worlds and Things,” a week-long focus on entrepreneurial innovation that included a series of hands-on experiments with 3D Printing, interactive lectures, and team-based work that evolved new paths of innovation. Participants visited Uber’s corporate offices in New York for an entrepreneurship-focused tour and worked in the University’s MIX Lab 3D printing facility in addition to taking part in cultural and team-building activities.

By taking the program global and working with universities internationally, I think the diversification of business ideas is taken even further,” says Frasca. “By pairing Americans with Austrians within the program, the outcomes of the innovations and startup ideas were even more creative, and allowed them to build upon one of the pillars of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, which is the importance of diverse teams.”

“It was great to be able to compare the United States startup and business models to those in Austria,” says Zakiyyah Williams, a junior accounting major at Montclair State and a Newark, New Jersey, native. “The program has really helped me come out of my shell by gaining experience pitching my ideas and meeting wonderful people and friends from a different culture, which will definitely help me as I move forward in my career.”

The current program came out of the experiences of an international student from Austria, Sebastian Swoboda, who participated in the curriculum in 2014. Completing Montclair State’s Certificate of Entrepreneurship during his stay, he also was part of the winning team in the University’s 2015 TeleBrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs pitch competition. His experiences had such a significant impact that he wanted to give Montclair State students the same life-changing opportunity for years to come. He then worked with professor Gutschelhofer, the head of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Graz, to make the program a reality.

“Coming to the United States opened up a completely different world for me,” says Swoboda, who now serves as the program coordinator for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Applied Business Studies in Graz. “It was a new way of seeing life, and the strategies the Feliciano Center focused on were a shift from what I learned in Austria. After having those amazing experiences, I thought it would be a great idea to bring students from each campus to both places so that American students could see another part of the world.”

“Our partnership with the University of Graz is Montclair State's oldest and deepest international collaboration,” says Jane Ann Williams, Montclair State’s executive director of global education. “Thanks to the academic direction of the team of professors Frasca and Kerr and professor Gutschelhofer, this program demonstrates the breadth of academic, cultural and social connections that are possible through short-term study abroad programs. It serves as an outstanding example of the impact global education can have on students from all parts of the world.”

To learn more about Montclair in Graz visit http://bit.ly/2pILUXT and to learn more about the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, visit montclair.edu/entrepreneur. To learn more about Montclair State’s Global Education Center, visit montclair.edu/global-education.