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Jay Smith Named Inaugural Director of the University of Maryland's New Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

Jay Smith Named Inaugural Director of the University of Maryland's New Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

Jay Smith, director of the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program
Jay Smith, director of the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

Jay Smith's 25-year career has taken him on four interconnected paths on both sides of the globe: as an entrepreneur, investment banker, management consultant and university faculty member. Now, those paths are converging at the University of Maryland, where Smith will lead the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP), a new living-learning initiative for freshmen and sophomore honors students.

Smith is uniquely qualified to lead the new program, which will launch this fall and serve 150 competitively selected students over a two-year period.

"EIP will be a foundational program for students," says Smith. "Being entrepreneurial and innovative gives students the chance to express themselves through their businesses while creating value for the economy and society. Entrepreneurship is a creative undertaking. Your view of the world can be expressed through your business."

Smith should know. He led the curve in providing Internet services in Japan. As an entrepreneur in the 1990s, he co-founded a multi-million dollar technology, creative services and media business in Tokyo, with clients such as the Citibank, Coca-Cola, Compaq, IBM, and Motorola, with Japanese partners such as Japan Telecom and a subsidiary of NTT.

Introducing students to entrepreneurship early in their collegiate careers, Smith says, is important. "Some of the greatest companies were founded by people between the ages of 18 and 22," Smith explains. "Look at Facebook, Dell, Microsoft, and Apple." The living-learning aspect of the program, he maintains, is also significant. "It's the same as you get in Silicon Valley, at MIT, Stanford and Harvard--when you get high-caliber, entrepreneurial people together, it's like the energy at the World Cup--and the creativity and output rises exponentially."

Smith was in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom as an investment banker for Jefferies & Company, where he helped raise over $400 million for technology and media businesses and evaluated numerous venture investment opportunities for the firm.

His subsequent work in New York and Tokyo as a management consultant to technology-based companies segues into his new mentoring role for students as they develop their own business and product/service ideas.

Smith spent the last five years as associate professor of the Inamori Academy of Kagoshima (National) University in southern Japan, where he developed and taught courses in venture business, entrepreneurship, business communications, and American business and culture in a program endowed by Japanese entrepreneur Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera Corporation, telecommunications firm DDI (now KDDI), and the Inamori Foundation, grantors of the Kyoto Prizes. Utilizing business presentations developed in his courses, Smith's students won both local and regional business plan competitions and were top finalists in national student and open competitions.

Smith holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he focused on entrepreneurship and the management of technology. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, with high honors and a dual major in economics and physics, from Rutgers University.

Smith saw a unique opportunity at the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), which manages EIP in partnership with the University of Maryland Honors College. "Mtech has been successfully doing entrepreneurship and innovation for over 25 years," Smith explains. "There is a huge, established group here, a critical mass. It's like when a spaceship launches from the back of an airplane--that's how this feels."

He also sees the current economic climate as an advantage. "Some of the most famous companies were launched during bad economic times--partly because of necessity--but if you can survive those times, you can survive even better when the economy turns around."

July 14, 2010


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