UConn’s future entrepreneurs had the unique opportunity to pitch their businesses to someone who knows what it takes to create a company from scratch: Peter J. Werth, philanthropist and innovator in generic prescription medication.
Werth, who recently made a historic commitment of $22.5 million to UConn, met with students in a private setting at NextGen Residence Hall (now known as the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower). Each presentation had a common thread. The UConn Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consortium’s members provided the critical funding, mentorship, and guidance to help them enter the business world.
“UConn has played a big part in allowing me to establish myself and establish my business,” said Jaclyn Paride ’17 (BUS) (CLAS), co-founder of Zapployment, an application allowing employers to fill no-show slots with qualified workers. “I would never see myself where I am right now and working on my own business. I have all these mentors that I’ve gained.”
Thanks to Werth’s incredible generosity, entrepreneurial activities at UConn will now operate as part of the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Under University leadership, the Institute will continue to bring together student and faculty programs fostering entrepreneurship and innovation that potentially have commercial application and can be used to create new companies.
This University-wide collaboration is already producing groundbreaking business ideas, including 3D printing for personalized medicine; a certification program for farms that promote farmers’ health; and a musculoskeletal loading device for sit-to-stand maneuvers for patients suffering from lower limb injuries. Werth provided valuable feedback gained from years of experience as the founder of his company, ChemWerth, Inc. In turn, the students were grateful for his support and advice.
“Thank you for your time and for your dedication to the University,” said Ryan Ouimet ’14 (ENG), Ph.D. student and CEO of MediSense Technology, which is developing a breathalyzer device to help diabetics manage their condition without invasive testing. “We greatly appreciate it.”
“It’s invaluable for these students to meet with Peter – someone who’s been in their shoes and knows what it takes to be successful,” said Dr. David Noble, Assistant Professor-in Residence at the School of Business. “We’re grateful for Peter’s tremendous support of entrepreneurial programming here at UConn. We believe we’ve only scratched the surface of innovation at the University, and his most generous commitment will help us go even further. I’m amazed that he is most excited about getting other entrepreneurial leaders to join his efforts with their time and money to make UConn the premier academic institution in the world, with regard to entrepreneurship and innovation.”
As Werth asked questions and interacted with students, one piece of advice stood out for all of the young CEOs in the room.
“Stay focused and execute,” Werth said. “The hardest part of business is to stay focused and execute.”