About the Pike Fellows Program
The Pike family, of the Pike Corporation, committed $250,000 to create an innovative competition for students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Eric Pike, third-generation CEO of the company, and his son Will (EE ’16) brought the idea to the department to promote entrepreneurship in the next generation. This new program will provide funding each year for three to five of the most advanced student entrepreneur teams as they develop cutting-edge technology ventures. The Pike program will provide initial funding for prototypes and research along with mentoring by venture capitalists and industry experts.
Inspiration for the program comes from the Pike family’s experiences and own history of entrepreneurship. As Mr. Pike explains, “Often a person can get a formal education and learn theory or they can go to a trade school and learn a craft, but when entrepreneurs combine these skills they become the creators of tomorrow. I want to help students become creators.” Will also sees this program as a “great way to stay involved with UVA” and calls the program a winning proposition for any team involved, even if they’re not selected for the top award. “My take away message for student entrepreneurs is what do you have to lose? If you’re an up-and-coming entrepreneur, at the very least you’ll be getting initial funding, expert mentorship and venture capital networking opportunities.”
Each year’s program will culminate in an Annual Showcase during which the teams will present their ventures to a nationally renowned panel of investors and industry experts. The top team will win a $50,000 prize to continue development of its enterprise, along with mentorship from key investors and experts in the field. Elizabeth Pyle noted that, “the greatest new product idea will go nowhere if the entrepreneur lacks the capital to make it happen. Real life feedback from experienced investors and industry experts is invaluable for young entrepreneurs just starting to network and to learn the ropes of the financial arena. What makes this program so especially exciting is that combination of expert input for all the teams in addition to the prize.”
"The new Pike program will allow us to prepare our top student entrepreneurs so that they will be able to compete successfully at the national level and ultimately launch ventures that will enrich the world."Department of Engineering and Society Chair, W. Bernard Carlson, PhD