Robert Macy has been appointed the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) liaison to NU Connections, a key University of Nebraska economic development program that connects industry professionals and entrepreneurs to resources across the University of Nebraska system. Macy also serves as an assistant professor of management and as the director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development at UNK. He comes to Nebraska with experience in running university entrepreneurship centers, technology transfer programs, and teaching courses in management and entrepreneurship. Most recently he was teaching entertainment management courses at the University of Central Florida.
Macy has big plans for his new role which officially began on July 1. “We’re re-imagining how we work at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development and refocusing our efforts to be more community-centered,” said Macy. What does this mean? Macy wants to bolster programs within UNK that help students, faculty, and staff start new business ventures and get the services and products they are developing to market.
In the past, he said, the center had been focused on consulting externally. “There are already a number of fantastic resources already within the Kearney community and surrounding areas for that,” he said. “For example, the Nebraska Business Development Center, which has a Kearney office on campus, is equipped to do just that.”
Instead of duplicating efforts among organizations, Macy wants to focus on opportunities that are more difficult to replicate outside of a university environment. “I want to help those in the UNK community start and launch their ventures. Students in particular are so full of energy – they’re full of these great ideas,” he said. “They don’t know what’s supposedly impossible, so they just do it. A lot of more experienced people will tell them they can’t do something, but they find a way to make it happen.” And the UNK campus, with its laboratories, technology, and academic resources, he says, is the perfect place for students to dream and develop a business.
One of his efforts will be focused on encouraging more students to select the entrepreneurship minor program. He says this training can be beneficial for students in a variety of degree programs – not just business majors. “For example,” he says, “People in the arts programs should consider the entrepreneurship minor. If you’re creating this incredible art, you should have the entrepreneurial skills to get compensated for your work. Scientists who come up with amazing technology or ideas have opportunities to commercialize what they’re doing, but it takes a certain skillset to move a product from a university environment to the hands of a consumer.”
When the opportunity to be UNK’s liaison to the NU Connections program came up, Macy knew that it would be a good fit for the work he is trying to do in the Kearney area. He plans to connect with businesses who could benefit from the support of University of Nebraska resources. For some, that may be partnering with a student project or capstone class. For others, it could be connecting an entrepreneur with a big idea to a faculty member with the expertise to make it a reality. Still others might want to access a laboratory to do things like product development or testing.
“The vision for the center and NU Connections are perfectly aligned. My goal is to understand faculty or staff interests and try to link them to industry resources. The other way around is true, too – community and industry that could have linkages back into the university. We have experts on so many interesting and different technologies that can help people – we can help companies push their way forward.”
Businesses or industry professionals who are interested in partnering with the University of Nebraska can learn more about resources available at https://nu-connections.nebraska.edu/.