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The William T. and Rita Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is a program at The University of Akron, to support and foster a climate of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship throughout UA.

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In 1995, the William T. and Rita Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies was created by The University’s Board of Trustees on the basis of a plan developed by the faculty, administrators, Advancement Council, Alumni Board, and by William T. and Rita W. Fitzgerald who provided an essential and much appreciated commitment for an endowment. Academic programming began in 1996. The entrepreneurship program is open to all students at the University and everyone in the community. Over 1,000 students have taken entrepreneurship courses since the inception of programming. The program emphasizes the study and development of analytical and conceptual skills in the creation and management of new enterprises and new ventures within large organizations. The skills students acquire in the program can also be used in buying a small business or franchise, growing an existing small business or family business, in corporate entrepreneurship and in a non-profit organization. The Institute emphasizes “experiential learning” through cooperation between industry, government, and academia in the pursuit of economic development for Northeast Ohio, the United States and the international community. The entrepreneurship program has an Advisory Board of 42 members who have volunteered their valuable time to enhance entrepreneurship at The University of Akron and throughout the region.

Fitzgerald Vision

The vision of the Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is to promote entrepreneurship throughout the university, community, region, U.S. and the world through the dissemination of practical “experiential” and theoretical knowledge, which will benefit society as a whole.

Mission Statement

  • Promote entrepreneurial spirit and practices essential to the flourishing of free enterprise.
  • Instruct students and the community on entrepreneurship and provide relevant research, knowledge and tools for effective entrepreneurial participation in a free enterprise system.
  • Facilitate new and emerging business development for the greater University of Akron community.

Opportunities for students

Entrepreneurial Women in Business Event

Friday, October 22

The first annual Entrepreneurial Women in Business panel discussion event will take place on Friday, October 22, 2021. This event is designed to inspire University of Akron women students to network, learn about entrepreneurship, and open opportunities to pursue business in the future. Click on the link for more details, to learn about the panelists, and how to register.

For more info

Funding Opportunities & Competitions


IdeaLabs is a student idea pitch competition in conjunction with schools around Northeast Ohio from the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC).

Mailing List

Sign up for our mailing list to receive updates on programming, announcements, new podcast releases, virtual event registration, entrepreneurial resources, and more. Please use the link below:

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Idea & Opportunity Feedback

Talking about your business idea is a good way to start practicing your sales pitch. Complete the form to receive rapid feedback on a business idea:

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Opportunity Exploration

Entrepreneurs often excel at identifying opportunities. Opportunity recognition and assessment is closely related to problem recognition and the creation of optimal solutions for those problems. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to apply for a limited amount of funding to help conduct market research to assess a potential opportunity. Successful applicants will work closely with The Fitzgerald Institute to complete an Opportunity Assessment Plan.

Students apply here

ZipSkills - Entrepreneurial Soft Skills Accelerator

ZipSkills is a new program offered by the Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies encouraging students to learn about the softer skills required when navigating entrepreneurial ecosystems. From learning more about investors to understanding how personality impacts the entrepreneurial journey, if accepted into this program you will engage in a variety of activities which will enhance your understanding of factors which assist entrepreneurs as they engage in uncertain environments.

Apply for program

Pitch Practice

Please fill out this form if you are interested in practicing your startup pitch:

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Opportunities for Faculty

Creating Entrepreneurial Classrooms

The Creating Entrepreneurial Classrooms (CEC) initiative is a project funded by The Burton D. Morgan Foundation to support the introduction of entrepreneurial thinking and innovative concepts in classrooms across campus. This program helps faculty infuse their classrooms with this entrepreneurial way of thinking to help students navigate the uncertain problems in our global environment by for-profit and not-for-profit initiatives.

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