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Sacramento State will become hub for innovators during Global Entrepreneurship Week

The Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which hosted The Startup Challenge seen above on Sept. 24, is organizing more than 30 events for this year's Global Entrepreneurship Week. (Sacramento State/Belen Torres)

Sacramento State will be the hub for the region’s makers, innovators, and job creators during this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), and the Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is making sure the University is a national leader.

“This year the Sacramento region is No. 2 in the nation with 52 events, and the Carlsen Center is No. 1 for university campaigns,” Carlsen Center Executive Director Cameron Law said.

The center, housed on campus in the University Library, is organizing more than 30 scheduled events, including mentor speed dating, a pitch contest worth $20,000 in cash prizes, and a diverse array of speakers.

“By putting ourselves on the international and national leaderboard, people are looking at this region as a place to go for innovation and entrepreneurial support.”

The event takes place Nov. 14-18, and will be in-person for the first time since 2019.

Global Entrepreneurship Week started in 2008 and has grown to include organizations in 200 countries, with 10 million people participating in more than 40,000 activities.

“If anyone has ever had an idea for a business, there are so many events going on this week that can help them learn how to start moving that idea forward,” StartupSac co-founder Laura Good said.

“If they’ve ever thought they wanted to be in business for themselves, or if they have this killer idea that will change the world, resources abound during GEW that will help them start their journey.”

Sacramento had played host to a handful of events in the past. But when the Carlsen Center opened in 2017, Sac State became the region’s hub for GEW activities, said Good, whose organization supports entrepreneurship in the greater Sacramento region.

“Sac State’s Carlsen Center, with its greater community focus, has really been a fantastic addition to our region’s entrepreneurial support fabric,” Good said. “Having that kind of visibility creates a win-win and helps to join both grassroots efforts and the people who have the money to support such things.”

Shortly after Law took over as the Carlsen Center’s executive director in 2019, he was chosen to be Sacramento’s GEW community organizer. That same year, he launched two new events: the Sacramento Entrepreneurial State of the Union and the Spark Venture Competition.

“The state of the union is really about getting leaders together to talk about what the future of Sacramento looks like and how we can connect more deeply to advance the role of entrepreneurship in building the region,” Law said.

This year’s keynote speaker is Jason Grill, an entrepreneur and government affairs head at Right to Start, a nonprofit that fights to expand entrepreneurial opportunities. He will discuss “unleashing opportunity for everyone” and ways to remove barriers to starting a business.

“Sac State’s Carlsen Center, with its greater community focus, has really been a fantastic addition to our region’s entrepreneurial support fabric. Having that kind of visibility creates a win-win and helps to join both grassroots efforts and the people who have the money to support such things.” -- Laura Good, co-founder, StartupSac

During the Spark Venture Competition on Nov. 16, founders will pitch their business ideas for a chance to win cash prizes. It’s one of the few pitch competitions in the region for early-stage startups. It also offers two separate contests for social change ventures and for-profit businesses.

This year, the applicant pool grew by over 35%, and more than 50 founders from the Sacramento region competed in the first round of judging. Ten finalists will compete during GEW.

“We went from 40 or so to 50, and we’ve gone on to see a number of those organizations continue to grow and win other pitch competitions in the region such as Kings Capitalize and Pitch Elk Grove.”

First prize winners in each track will receive $7,500, and second place winners will receive $2,500, making Spark Venture one of the region’s largest cash prize pitch events. 

Also speaking this year is Black Star Fund Chief Executive Officer Kwame Anku, who also serves on the Carlsen Center Advisory Board. Anku will explore opportunity and possibility as a mindset to creating success.

“Entrepreneurship is a very effective method of economic development and growth,” Good said. “Every entrepreneur is potentially creating a job for themselves as well as for other people. … If you support entrepreneurship in your community, you’re going to have some homegrown successes that will provide jobs for the community as well as bring money to the region.”

Sac State’s GEW got a boost in 2019 when Western Health Advantage gave the Carlsen Center $1 million to grow the program. Since then, Sacramento has ranked among the top five cities in the nation for the number of GEW events, according to Law.

“Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems and creating value,” Law said. “It is a risky and vulnerable endeavor, but it is vital to progressing our region socially and economically.

“I look forward to this week catalyzing new changemakers and creators as well as reinvigorating entrepreneurs that needed that jolt of community and inspiration.”

Five students in green shirts reading "#SacStateInnovates," standing next to a digital display reading "Global Entrepreneurship Week."
Students celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week in 2019. Saramento State is No. 1 in the nation for the number of GEW events on a university campus. (Sacramento State file/Jessica Vernone)

 

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About Jennifer K. Morita

Jennifer K. Morita joined Sacramento State in 2022. A former newspaper reporter for the Sacramento Bee, she spent several years juggling freelance writing with being a mom. When she isn’t chauffeuring her two daughters, she enjoys reading mysteries, experimenting with recipes, and Zumba.

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