San Diego Business Journal

Local universities are beginning to play a more significant role in fostering the global economy due to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' request for grant proposals.

The ECA continually provides funding opportunities for academic and nonprofit institutions to help promote and exchange information and ideas between the United States and other countries.

A year and a half ago, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs South Asia Professional Exchange and Training program developed a grant to help support exchanges, build relationships and strengthen economic development in Africa, East Asia, Eurasia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Western Hemisphere.

The Beyster Institute at UC San Diego's Rady School of Management was among four out of 60 educational institutions in the United States that applied to receive grant money.

Each university was given a different amount of money depending on how they structured their program.

UCSD, which received $185,000, and the Centre for Small and Medium Enterprise Growth and Development Finance in India partnered together to outline a proposal for an entrepreneurial program.

Because the Beyster Institute focuses on economic development worldwide, the faculty decided to design the three-phase program to enhance entrepreneurship education, build a network of entrepreneurship educators and create economic growth in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"The idea is to build closer working relationships on a professional basis, to increase national trade and to introduce businesses across the South Asia region to the United States that want to do trade," said Rob Fuller, director of entrepreneurial programs for the Beyster Institute.

The first phase, called the Dynamic Entrepreneurship Classroom Clinic, was a six-day course ending Dec. 12 that brought 12 South Asian university faculty members to San Diego.

Through the course, professors from Syracuse University, San Diego State University and the University of San Diego taught the participants new entrepreneurial teaching methods, business plans and marketing exercises.

"With this program we have been able to identify a few new techniques of entrepreneurship, particularly relating to developing business plans and business models," said Saliendra Narain, the chairman of the Centre for Small and Medium Enterprise Growth and Development Finance.

The 12 participants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will take what they have learned from the program and share the new entrepreneurial techniques and methodologies to a larger group of South Asian university instructors.

This second phase is set to begin Jan. 10 at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India in Ahmebadad.

"Effective entrepreneurship instruction not only provides students with the skills they need to build strong businesses, but also with the confidence and inspiration that are vital to building strong economies," said Ray Smilor, the executive director of the Beyster Institute.

In addition to classroom instruction, the clinic had the South Asian faculty attend a few entrepreneurial networking events so that they could develop relationships between the United States and South Asian countries.

The course ended with the South Asian faculty using the teaching methods that they learned on a group of UCSD students.

"A lot of new techniques that were demonstrated carried forward to their peers in South Asia," said Fuller. "More came out of the program than what was anticipated."

The South Asian faculty went beyond the curriculum of the program and created an organization called the South Asian Forum for Entrepreneur Education and Research.

The SAFEER organization was created by the participants to maintain and build a network with institutions and students so that more programs can be established to exchange research, information and experiences. The organization is projecting it will bring 35 faculty members from other universities in South Asia.

"An additional 22 professors from the South Asian region have gathered to further refine what was learned in the San Diego workshop," Narain said.

By the end of the program, UCSD and the South Asian faculty will have designed a Web site where participating universities will be able to post classroom material, curriculum and syllabuses to share.

"After the end of this program, we're hoping the collaboration between the regions will help San Diego become more global," Fuller said.