Stanford Launches ‘Ecopreneurship’ Program

A new collaboration between Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability and Graduate School of Business aims to help students start climate-friendly businesses.
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Published on June 16, 2023
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  • A new program at Stanford University will encourage students to build sustainable businesses.
  • The Stanford Ecopreneurship program is a collaboration between the university's Graduate School of Business and the new Doerr School of Sustainability.
  • The program will include grants, hands-on learning, coaching, internships, and other curriculum to help students create environmentally focused ventures.
  • Sustainability is emerging as a key interest for prospective business students.

Sustainability and climate change are top interests for business students — and a new Stanford University program will help students build eco-friendly businesses.

The Stanford Ecopreneurship program, a collaborative effort between Stanford's new Doerr School of Sustainability and Graduate School of Business, will include grants and hands-on projects to help students create public, private, and nonprofit-sector organizations with sustainability at the forefront, according to a press release.

The program will launch in summer 2023 with immersion and internship programs to help students develop their own ventures, according to the release. The program will also pair students with faculty members who received 2022 Sustainability Accelerator grants to explore commercialization pathways of the faculty's research, according to the release.

Four students have already been awarded Stanford Impact Founder Fellowship in the new ecopreneurship category to help build their sustainability-focused businesses, according to a June 6 release. Those fellowships provide a year of personalized coaching and $110,000 to help students build their climate-friendly ventures.

Students' ventures include new battery systems for heavy transportation; a soil carbon measurement system; a sustainable, lab-grown alternative to palm oil; and a skills training program to build modern, climate-friendly farms in sub-Saharan Africa.

I see many technologies developed in faculty labs, but only a small percentage of those technologies are translated into the real world, Stanford Ecopreneurship program co-director Yi Cui, who also leads Stanford's Sustainability Accelerator and the Precourt Institute for Energy, said in the release. It's very exciting to be linking these technologies with the students who are interested in ecopreneurship.

The Stanford Ecopreneurship program will support a new generation of sustainability leaders and problem solvers in launching new solutions to the climate crisis, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in the release. The program creates opportunities for our students as they work to make a difference for the future of our planet and for people around the world. I am grateful to Marc and Lynne Benioff for their vision for this program and for supporting our students in achieving their goals.

Businesses are increasingly focused on sustainability, with many major companies adopting chief sustainability officers and chief climate officers. This year's Tomorrow's MBA survey of prospective master of business administration (MBA) students by the United Kingdom-based consulting firm CarringtonCrisp found that climate change appeared in students' top 10 most important program topics for the first time in the survey's history.

Business schools and universities at large are increasingly incorporating sustainability into their curriculum. The international business school INSEAD announced earlier this year that it would incorporate sustainability into all of its core MBA courses. Tulane University also incorporated a sustainability concentration when it announced an overhaul of its MBA curriculum earlier this year.

Stanford's Doerr School of Sustainability became the university's first new school in 70 years when it launched last year. Venture capitalist John Doerr and his wife, Ann, gave $1.1 billion to establish the new school, which focuses on climate change, earth and planetary sciences, and other sustainability-related disciplines.