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NC State and NC A&T Secure Grant to Revolutionize Entrepreneurial Education

In a collaborative effort, NC State and North Carolina A&T have successfully secured a $300,000 USDA Higher Education Challenge Grant for a transformative project aimed at enhancing entrepreneurial competencies through cutting-edge technologies and innovative business models (IBMs). The title of the project is Enhancing Entrepreneurial Competencies via 4th Industrial Revolutions Technologies and Innovative Business Models: Ecosystem Approach. Led by Byoungho Ellie Jin, an Albert Myers Distinguished Professor in the Wilson College of Textiles, the project promises to bring multidisciplinary impacts using an ecosystem approach from farm to end consumers.

The project brings together colleagues from NC State and NC A&T. The team consists of Jin, Katherine McKee, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, Daniela Jones, assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering from NC State. Elizabeth Hopfer, associate professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, Chyi Lyi Liang, Kellogg Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agribusiness, Applied Economics and Agriscience and Mark Blevins, assistant extension administrator for Agriculture and Natural Resources, contribute valuable expertise from NC A&T. This multidisciplinary team ensures a comprehensive approach to the project’s goals.

The three-year initiative will develop instructional tools and methods using Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies and innovative business models. Leveraging open education resources (OER), the project seeks broad adoption and impact across various sectors, focusing on the entire supply chain of food and agricultural industries. The initiative aims to create a broad impact, targeting three major audience groups: students, faculty, and N.C. Cooperative Extension professionals. By enhancing the quality of instruction for undergraduate and graduate students at NC State and NC A&T, the project seeks to empower the next generation of professionals in food, agriculture, and related disciplines.

Project members (From left to right): Chyi Lyi Liang (Co-PI), Blevins (Co-PI), Katherine McKee (Co-PI), Elizabeth Hopfer (Co-PI), Byoungho Ellie Jin (PI), and Daniela Jones (Co-PI)

The project’s deliverables include new instructional modules and OER platforms for faculty, fostering knowledge transfer and pedagogy. N.C. Cooperative Extension professionals will be prepared to incorporate 4IR technologies and IBMs into their programs, bringing essential knowledge and skills to farmers. The project’s focus on 4IR technologies and IBMs, coupled with its ecosystem approach, makes it relevant across the entire supply chain of food and agricultural industries. 

The project team is set to collaborate with various stakeholders, including rural businesses, the NC A&T Center of Excellence in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at NC State. Rural businesses will engage in service learning projects, creating mutually beneficial relationships with students and OER. Additionally, the team will leverage the expertise of co-PI Blevins to extend project impact through his network of extension professionals. To enhance the project’s reach, the team plans to engage with professionals from the USDA to share findings and educational resources developed throughout the initiative.

This grant signals a significant step forward in revolutionizing entrepreneurial education, leveraging 4IR technologies and innovative business models. The collaborative efforts of the NC State and NC A&T team, along with strategic partnerships, promise to bring about transformative change across the academic and agricultural landscapes. The three-year journey ahead holds the potential to shape the future of entrepreneurship education and empower the next generation of leaders in the field.