By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University will host a hybrid colloquium on transitional entrepreneurship on June 17 and 18. The colloquium is the second of a series of annual colloquia supported by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Approximately 180 persons from 25 countries have registered for the event, including 35 to 40 who will attend in person, said Anil Nair, professor in the Department of Management and co-chair of the colloquium with Assistant Professor Li-Wei Chen. Last year's colloquium, which attracted more than 100 scholars, policy makers and entrepreneurs from 14 countries, and was completely virtual.

"The colloquium seeks to diversify the pipeline of scholars studying entrepreneurship among groups that face adversities in launching their ventures — e.g., veterans, minorities, women, immigrants and refugees," Nair said. "The E.M. Kauffman Foundation's sponsorship of this colloquium offers Strome College and ODU global visibility and an opportunity to carve out a leadership position in this domain."

He said the organizing the colloquium would not have been possible without the support of Chris Willis, Ph.D. student in the Strome's Department of Management. In addition, many faculty, graduate students and staff across the University helped organize the event.

Nair was awarded a $400,000 grant in the fall of 2020 as part of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation's Knowledge Challenge initiative, which focuses on "grants that seek to answer questions based on real-world problems facing entrepreneurs and their communities. An emphasis throughout the portfolio includes grants for programs and projects that advance knowledge about entrepreneurship and economic mobility, and support an inclusive pipeline of entrepreneurship researchers," according to the foundation's website.

The grant supports an annual transitional entrepreneurship colloquium at ODU over four years, and entrepreneurship training for veterans, women, high school and middle school students. Additionally, the grant funds training and research stipends for ODU students interested in transitional entrepreneurship.

"Transitional Entrepreneurship has been a key pillar of Strome's strategic plan since 2015," Dean Jeff Tanner said. "The colloquium brings together scholars from around the world who are developing a body of knowledge that will help us understand how entrepreneurs from groups that have been traditionally disadvantaged in their access to resources can succeed."

As an example, Tanner cited the large number of veterans who live in Hampton Roads.

"Many have entrepreneurial aspirations," he said. "This conference can accelerate our impact, if we can understand how best to build entrepreneurial capacity among veterans and others."

Along with those efforts, the college launched the Hudgins Transitional Entrepreneurship Lab in 2019. It was funded in part by a donation from Marsha Hudgins, the CEO of Hudgins Contracting who earned her MBA from ODU in 1976.

"One of ODU's core values is diversity," said Austin Agho, ODU's provost and vice president for academic affairs. "I appreciate the EwingMarion Kauffman Foundation's support of our initiative to diversify the pool of scholars studying entrepreneurship. Different perspectives will enrich and help us better understand the unique challenges faced by entrepreneurs from different groups."

For more information about the colloquium, go to this link.

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