The program commonly known as DEN — the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network — was the gateway brand of entrepreneurship at Dartmouth. Now, that network has been elevated into a comprehensive center to support entrepreneurship on and off campus, known as The Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship at Dartmouth. Our programing will be presented under four pillars: experiential learning, startup support, alumni engagement and community involvement.
The center is named for Allison and Rick Magnuson, class of ’79. Rick was one of our first donors during the pilot phase of DEN, and after seeing the progress and momentum made under that program he committed to helping expand entrepreneurship across campus.
Going forward, DEN will be a specific program under our alumni engagement pillar. This will include DEN city chapters and our footprint know as DEN West Coast.
At The Magnuson Center, we believe in a wide definition of entrepreneurship, recognizing that innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. We want serve all entrepreneurs, whether they are launching a new company in Silicon Valley, creating a socially-inspired venture or starting a traditional small business on Main Street.
We’re a program built around the art of incubation. The Magnuson Center has some of the characteristics of an incubator in that we want to help stakeholders with an idea move forward. While we provide educational programing like an incubator might, we don’t provide the facilities that many incubators do. The Magnuson Center is very much a launching point for those who are in between an idea and formation of a business.
Yes! We believe that supporting entrepreneurship is more than just providing resources to founders. We have grown our programatic offerings knowing that an entrepreneurial ecosystem doesn’t just center around founding something. The skill sets embodied in entrepreneurship — thinking outside the box, doing more with less, knowing how to bring people of different backgrounds together for goal, the ability to pitch a vision and articulate an idea — all have place above and beyond just the launch of a company. That philosophy is in direct support of the liberal arts culture at Dartmouth.
Some of our programs target undergrads. However, we are dedicated to also working with graduate and professional school students, faculty, staff, alumni and even people who aren’t directly affiliated with Dartmouth. Building any sort of new venture requires diverse skills, experiences and perspectives. Being within the context of the academy we have access to all of those. We work very hard to encourage interactions and collaborations between all stakeholder groups, in order to increase the chances of success moving forward.
While the Magnuson Center has space components, these don’t define us. Instead, our goal is to permeate the entire campus with a entrepreneurial presence. We use the term “center” to refer more to our body of programatic work, rather than to a physical space. You’ll find us holding programing in various facilities around campus. We’re also excited about the development of a future space being planned on the west end of campus as part of the expansion of Thayer School of Engineering, which will be open in two to three years.
Likewise, there is no single point of entry or membership into The Magnuson Center. Anyone who engages with our programming — whether by attending informal events like a speaker series or becoming part of a cohort of grant recipients — is considered a member of The Magnuson Center family.
Previously, our physical space known as The Innovation Center was open to all stakeholders, regardless of where they were in the entrepreneurial process. Going forward, the space will be reserved as a resource for those who are actively in the process of bringing an idea to fruition. Spots are awarded through an application process.
Formally, the Magnuson Center sits within the college in the Provost’s division. We’re positioned to uniquely serve the whole institution — One Dartmouth. While other programs might support entrepreneurship in a specific schools, The Magnuson Center is able to form partnerships with stakeholders throughout campus, serving as sinew to connect the entire community around entrepreneurship.
Through the Magnuson Center, Dartmouth is becoming an investor and an active participant in the growing regional entrepreneurial ecosystems that are developing. We want to support those as a thought leader, sponsor, participant and good neighbor. We also recognize that we don’t have to produce all of the programs that will be needed by our stakeholders. Instead, we can direct people to opportunities taking place in the wider entrepreneurship community.
Alumni engagement is one of our four pillars. We aim to support alums who are launching new ideas and engage with those who have proven success as entrepreneurs. DEN city chapters will remain active and there will be a full-time staff member from The Magnuson Center working to serve alums on the west coast. The semi-annual Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Forum will continue to be held in Hanover and San Francisco each year. We hope that alumni with entrepreneurial experience will engage with the Magnuson Center on and off campus.