Samford's Brock School of Business Students Attend Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference


Birmingham, Ala. – Samford’s Brock School of Business students, Kley Sippel, Cameron Collins and Lauren Groves, attended the Alabama Launchpad Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference on Friday at the Wynfrey Hotel.  The statewide conference, attended by more than 200 people, kicked off Alabama Launchpad’s sixth year and brought together major players in Alabama’s “innovation ecosystem,” including government, business, university and research center leaders.


Conference speakers included Governor Robert Bentley and Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine.  Bentley spoke about the need to “recruit, retain and renew” Alabama businesses, and Karlgaard discussed the potential for a “manufacturing renaissance” within Alabama, given the state’s intellectual capital and favorable costs of doing business.  Luncheon speaker, Sherwin Greenblatt, president (retired) and the first employee of Bose Corporation, provided a detailed history of the company, including critical entrepreneurial decisions that had to be made.   He also discussed his current work developing entrepreneurs through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Venture Mentoring Service.


Student feedback after the conference indicated they benefited greatly from the experience. Groves said “I particularly enjoyed listening to Rich Karlgaard and his interesting perspective concerning Alabama's role in the recovering U.S. economy. It was a great experience to hear from such leaders in the business world and learn from their insights.”


Sippel added “Since I've grown up surrounded by electronic communication and service-based industries, hearing about the predicted manufacturing boom in the United States and Alabama challenged my thinking. I particularly enjoyed the keynote speaker, the retired CEO of Bose.  His thoughts on developing entrepreneurs relates to my senior (Brock Scholar’s) thesis.”


Collins, who is president of the Brock School’s chapter of Students in Free Enterprise, said “The conference was a great supplement to my classroom learning.  To me, it really emphasized the importance of partnerships in driving innovation.  I hope to use some of the lessons I learned to help motivate and grow our Students In Free Enterprise chapter.  Seeing Innovation Depot, a company I interned with last semester through the Brock School of Business, receive the inaugural "Innovate Alabama Award" was also exciting.”


Franz Lohrke, Brock Family Chair in Entrepreneurship, said “This was an outstanding experience for our students.  I am thrilled that they took the initiative to ask about attending this conference, and I’d like to thank conference organizers for giving them a student discount.  I also am grateful to our donors, whose generosity made it possible for them to go.”