May 30, 2020
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COA business incubator earns national invitation

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Rice University links to The Hatchery, a College of the Atlantic innovation accelerator

BAR HARBOR, MAINE — Recognized as one of the first college business ventures of its kind, College of the Atlantic has been invited to become a founding member of the University Network of Incubators and Accelerators, in recognition of its project called The Hatchery.

The network — supported by a Blackstone Foundation Innovation Grant and administered by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University in Houston — is being launched to “share best practices among universities seeking to encourage the successful formation of technology startups, either from students, alumni, or in their community,” according to the Network’s website.

The Hatchery provides eligible students space and time to develop for- or nonprofit projects and to pursue potential seed funding. The sustainable-enterprise incubator confers academic credit and has attracted the attention of Newsweek, The Chronicle of Higher Education and AshokaU, a well-known consortium that named COA one of five U.S. “changemaker campuses” in 2009.

Through a competitive application process, students selected for The Hatchery receive academic credit for developing a rapid prototype and market testing their ideas in 10-weeks. They also receive office space and equipment; business mentors from the Mount Desert Island and campus communities; personal support services to launch their enterprise; and the potential of up to $5,000 in seed funding.

“No other liberal arts undergraduate business program offers this resource for academic credit,” said Jay Friedlander, the Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business who oversees The Hatchery. “We regard it as key to fostering a transition from graduating student to functional entrepreneur, and we’re excited to begin networking this useful concept with the consortium being set up by Rice.”

The Hatchery was created “to move students beyond the classroom,” Friedlander said.

Each COA student with a Hatchery venture is matched with a professional mentor who has a strong background in the student’s market or approach. Past mentors at The Hatchery have included the Director of Harbor House Community Center, Southwest Harbor; the CEO of Senior Care Development LLC; a founding partner of the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund; and the executive director of the Tribeca Film Festival.

“We have found that the mentor brings a perspective that enhances the classroom and independent work, and allows the student to create an additional network for future reference,” Friedlander said.

A leading expert in sustainable business practices, Friedlander has been invited by the Harvard Project on Asian and International Relations to speak at its 2014 conference in Tokyo, and he gave the keynote address at the Asian Conference on Sustainability, Energy and the Environment in Osaka, Japan, on June 12 with a talk centered on creating abundance for enterprise, society, and the environment, simultaneously.

Friedlander has developed a sustainable-business curriculum at College of the Atlantic focused on unlocking innovation and creating competitive advantage by creating abundance for society, the economy and the planet. Prior to joining COA, he was chief operating officer for O’Naturals Inc., a natural and organic fast-food restaurant group, and has a broad array of experience in start-up businesses, including work with senior executives of Fortune 500 companies.

Friedlander received his MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, where he specialized in new venture creation and graduated Summa Cum Laude, valedictorian of his class. He earned his undergraduate degree in sociology and anthropology from Colgate University, where he graduated with honors.

College of the Atlantic has been cited by the Princeton Review, the Sustainable Endowment Institute, Fast Company, The New York Times and others as a leader in sustainability.

After joining the Rice group, COA representatives may opt to attend the annual Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers conference Oct. 2-4 in London or the 2015 conference at the University of Florida. The London conference theme is “Entrepreneurship Everywhere.”

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit