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Rubenstein Gives $15 Million for Duke’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative

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Part of the Student Entrepreneurs Series

Duke University trustee David M. Rubenstein has donated $15 million to serve as a catalyst for the university's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Friday.

Rubenstein's $15 million gift will be used to establish new programs, enhance existing programs and support course development, internships, research, guest faculty and administrative operations that spur the creation of start-up ventures by faculty, staff, students and alumni.

"Every successful institution began as someone’s bright idea, and the creativity and can-do spirit of entrepreneurs are playing an ever more important role in building the economy and solving social challenges," Brodhead said. "In today's economic climate, sparking and training the entrepreneurial spirit is a fundamental goal of education. We're grateful to David Rubenstein for making Duke a leader in this field."

Duke announced the launch of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative in October 2010 to expand the societal impact of Duke inventions and to better serve students and faculty who seek to establish their own ventures as entrepreneurs.

Hired to lead the initiative was Kimberly Jenkins, a university alumna and former trustee who has launched entrepreneurial ventures with leading technology companies and established a prominent nonprofit organization.

"Duke is full of intellectually curious, passionate students eager to apply their entrepreneurial skills and inventiveness to tackling the big, complex issues of the world. And our faculty are among the best in the nation at translating our research innovation out of the university to those who most need our innovative solutions," said Jenkins, senior advisor to the president and provost for innovation and entrepreneurship. "David Rubenstein's gift will establish a pathway through which ideas gain traction and are transformed into action for an evolving global economy that’s driven by innovation and entrepreneurship."

Since the launch of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, the university has been working to strengthen its existing programs in entrepreneurship, establish new programs to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs, build a stronger culture of research innovation across Duke and move campus ventures to the global market and create new jobs. Rubenstein's gift will support all of these objectives.

"Duke has, throughout its many schools and centers, the requisite capabilities to inspire and incubate social and business entrepreneurs and their creations," Rubenstein said. "This gift is designed to help channel and focus these capabilities, enhancing Duke's role as a national leader among universities focused on creating great entrepreneurs and innovators. I see my gift as start-up funding and just the beginning. Duke needs other alumni to join me in providing their time, expertise and financial support to advance this initiative."

To enhance entrepreneurship education at Duke, Rubenstein's gift will be used to create courses, an incubator and mentoring programs that support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in their development of important innovations and new ventures. It will also expand on programs funded, in part, with gifts from other donors.

Existing curricular and co-curricular programs include The Duke Start-Up Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition for students now in its 13th year that runs throughout the academic year, and InCube, Duke's entrepreneurial residential community where 10 companies were created in its first year of operation.

This summer, as part of a pilot program, 10 Duke undergraduates will serve as interns at start-ups in Silicon Valley and three student teams will work closely with Duke alumni on developing their ventures at Dogpatch Labs, the incubator that spawned Instagram. In Durham, three teams of undergraduates and two teams of graduate students from the Nicholas School of the Environment will launch their new ventures through DUhatch, the on-campus incubator located in the Pratt School of Engineering.

"In a field like entrepreneurship, student learning must extend beyond the classroom and into the field, and it must be hands-on, applicable, relevant, and impactful," Jenkins said.

Duke's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative will work with individual departments, including history, philosophy and sociology, and schools such as the Fuqua School of Business, the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Pratt School of Engineering, the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, Duke Law School and Sanford School of Public Policy, to encourage research in areas that foster innovation across the campus. Programs will be developed to promote collaborative, market-driven research and to provide financial resources to support early-stage innovation and translational research.

In addition, a centrally located space will be established to give all those involved in entrepreneurship at Duke access to equipment, resources, advice and mentorship that will foster collaboration and help move innovations from ideas and prototypes into new ventures that make a difference in the world, Jenkins said.

A native of Baltimore, Rubenstein is co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager. He graduated magna cum laude from Duke in 1970 and serves as vice chair of the university's Board of Trustees.

In August 2011, he gave Duke University Libraries its largest gift ever -- $13.6 million -- to support the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, which was renamed the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in his honor.

In 2009, he donated $5.75 million to the Sanford School of Public Policy to help it transition from an institute into Duke's 10th school; and he contributed $5 million in 2002 to complete the construction of Sanford's Rubenstein Hall.

In addition to his service at Duke, Rubenstein is the chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, president of the Economic Club of Washington, vice chair of the Brookings Institution and board member of the Council on Foreign Relations.