DURHAM, N.C. – The Environmental Innovation & Entrepreneurship (EI&E) program, part of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, will award certificates to its first group of graduating students on Saturday, May 10.

Seven students will receive the certificates. 

EI&E is a two-year program that uses both experiential and traditional approaches to teach students how to develop, evaluate, refine, and launch a new sustainable product or service.

In addition to the 7 graduating students, another 28 students —from the Nicholas School’s Master of Environmental Management professional master’s program as well as other graduate and undergraduate programs at Duke—are enrolled in this year’s “Mega Trends” course, the entry point for the certificate.

Launched in August 2012, the 12-credit program takes students from answering a basic question about the environment: “What is happening in the environment and how does this impact the world going forward?” to answering a core, entrepreneurial question: “How can this be translated into a sustainable, value-creating opportunity?”

The EI&E leadership team is comprised of career entrepreneurs, with extensive experience in early-stage start-ups. Companies that have been established by the team include: Cronos Integrated Microsystem (acquired by JDS Uniphase and now MEMSCAP); Nextreme Thermal Solutions (acquired by Laird Technologies); and Zenalux Biotechnology (privately held).

Jesko von Windheim, professor of the practice of environmental innovation and entrepreneurship and director of the new Environmental Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, said, “The best possible way to translate great science into practice is to train our up-and-coming managers and scientists in the basics of commercializing new technology.  We introduce students to marketing communications, financial decision making, intellectual property management, and start-up operations – all things I wish I had learned when I was doing my graduate work.”

“Environmental management ranges from understanding leading-edge environmental science all the way to implementing best practices in accordance with the science,” said William L. Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School.  “We pride ourselves in developing environmental managers that are schooled in the science of environmental stewardship; now our entrepreneurship program adds yet another range of skills to position our graduates to implement best practices in practical and innovative ways.”

The inaugural EI&E certificate program graduates are:

  • Gabriela Anhalzer of Quito, Ecuador – Anhalzer is an MEM candidate with a concentration in coastal environmental management.  She is focusing on using market-based initiatives to achieve a sustainable use of resources, with a special interest in identifying economic and market incentives to achieve sustainability and traceability in the seafood industry in the developing world.
  • Lindsey Dattels of Wilmette, Ill. – Dattels is an MEM candidate with a concentration in energy and  the environment. Her passion for entrepreneurship grew from her experiences starting a jewelry-making enterprise at a local orphanage in Cameroon, in addition to helping Cameroonians with the technical and business expertise they needed to start their own successful businesses.
  • Elizabeth Demarco of New Providence, N.J. – Demarco is an MEM candidate with a concentration in global environment change. She holds a BA in economics from Barnard College of Columbia University and worked as a financial analyst for Houlihan Lokey prior to her enrollment at Duke. Upon graduation, she would like to combine her business experience and environmental knowledge in a business management role at an environmentally-focused start-up.
  • Drew Howard of Annandale, Va. – Howard is an MEM candidate with a concentration in environmental economics and policy and an energy focus. For his masters project, he is working with two environmental start-ups, providing them with marketing, communications, new market analysis and other assistance.
  • Sidharth Sharma of Ellicott City, Md. – Sharma is an MEM candidate with a concentration in energy. His research interests include sustainable business strategy, energy communication, and energy efficiency.
  • Victor Smith of San Francisco, Calif. – Smith is an MEM candidate with a concentration in energy and the environment. During his time at the Nicholas School he helped found Refrackt, a water treatment start-up that uses membrane distillation to cost effectively treat hydraulic fracturing wastewater.
  • Christine Yip of Westford, Mass. – Yip is pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and holds bachelor degrees in economics and computer science from  Bowdoin College. She believes that the major policy issues of today require interdisciplinary solutions, and recently worked on a zero-waste consulting project in the local community.

For more information about the Environmental Innovation & Entrepreneurship program, contact Jesko von Windheim at jesko@duke.edu or 919-949-8970, or visit the program website at http://sites.nicholas.duke.edu/innovate/.