Sacred Heart University gets $1.8M grant to boost entrepreneurship
San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Sacred Heart University, locally known as Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, has received a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency’s Capital Readiness Program to strengthen the co-curricular and academic strategies of its “Scaling @Sagrado’s Entrepreneurial City” proposal.
The institution is among 43 entities across the U.S., and the only one in Puerto Rico, that received this funding.
The university’s proposal, which competed against around 1,000 other proposals in the mainland U.S., intends to educate entrepreneurship students on financial matters, as well as strengthening the La Cepita acceleration program and the Entrepreneurship Hubs incubator to scale up companies and student-driven social initiatives.
“The funds from the Capital Readiness Program offer us a great opportunity to continue strengthening the development of student entrepreneurs,” said university President Gilberto Marxuach-Torrós.
“Our students are the very center of [Sacred Heart’s] educational project, which has the mission of educating people who are willing to build a Puerto Rican society that is more centered around solidarity. To build this society, we need entrepreneurs who can identify sustainable solutions to collective challenges,” he added.
The grant will also help purchase gear for the Fabrication Laboratory of the Collaborative Innovation Center, Neeuko, a unit tied to the Entrepreneurship component that also supports the entire university community.
In turn, students’ projects will receive technical assistance, training in acquiring seed capital and specialized services to accelerate their business development process, explained the university.
“At Sacred Heart University, students from all academic disciplines live the experience of devising, validating, developing and executing an entrepreneurial project through a sequence of courses that are part of the institutional graduation requirements,” said Anuchka Ramos Ruiz, vice president of academic affairs.
“Entrepreneurship projects can be of a community, business, technological, health or creative nature. The grant from the Minority Business Development Agency endorses Sagrado’s academic commitment to the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship in all areas of knowledge, always within the framework of the principles of ethical sense and social justice,” she said.
Nadesha González-Nieves, dean of general education, acknowledged the grant’s importance in continuing to integrate entrepreneurship experiences and opportunities.
“In just two years, the entrepreneurship component has gained strength through the expansion of the academic and curricular experiences of the student body. With the approval of the MBDA proposal, we ensure a greater quantity and quality of service for our students. Thanks to the vision of the academic leader in entrepreneurship, Prof. Sandra Pedraza, and the commitment of all Neeuko team members, Sacred Heart University currently has the best and most recognized entrepreneurship curriculum and laboratory in Puerto Rico,” she added.
The Capital Readiness Program is a technical assistance program designed to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs develop and expand their businesses. With the granted funds, the entities will launch business incubators or accelerators designed to prepare entrepreneurs to obtain capital from the State Small Business Credit Initiative, as well as other sources. The MBDA is the only federal agency devoted to fostering the expansion and global competitiveness of minority-owned businesses.