Penn Vet, Wharton launch entrepreneurship program

Published on June 26, 2019

A new partnership between the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and the Wharton School, the university's business school, launched in May.

The Leading Veterinary Entrepreneurship program is designed to be a continuing education opportunity for veterinary clinicians, scientists, technologists, academicians, and innovators to explore the keystones of successful entrepreneurship, according to a university press release.

Penn Vet isn't alone in making connections between veterinary medicine and the business world. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine launched the Center for Veterinary Business and Entrepreneurship in April to include business in veterinary academia. The program is a joint effort between the veterinary college and the SC Johnson College of Business.

The Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy has also organized a 10-week program that will match 20 students from seven different institutions with startup companies this summer. The goal of the program is to increase innovation within the veterinary profession. The organization got its start at Texas A&M University, the founding academic partner of the organization, in 2016.

Leading Veterinary Entrepreneurship program participants
Participants representing veterinary academic institutions, private practice, and nonprofits attend the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's inaugural Leading Veterinary Entrepreneurship program in June. The program was delivered in partnership with the Wharton School, the university's business school. (Photo by Don Marsella/Marsella Studio Inc.)


JAVMA News caught up with Dr. Andy Hoffman, dean of Penn Vet, to discuss where the idea came from for the Leading Veterinary Entrepreneurship program. The following responses have been lightly edited.

Q. Can you tell me about the program?

A. The new Leading Veterinary Entrepreneurship program is designed to provide high-quality, practical education to support entrepreneurial veterinarians or veterinary students looking to drive change and create social value. It will address the importance of opportunity identification, testing potential concepts, and assessing viability. Insight from Wharton's top professors, along with guidance from startup founders, will help participants hone skills to develop new products, services, or ventures with the potential for funding and growth.

Leading Veterinary Entrepreneurship is led by James Thompson, author of "The Social Entrepreneurs Playbook."

Q. Where did the idea come from?

A. The program came from the idea that veterinary students and graduates almost universally want to be more engaged in social and commercial activities that impact the world.

Entrepreneurship programs are often exclusively embedded in business and engineering schools, and I see a need to go beyond that to include veterinarians and provide a pathway toward further credentials. Personally, I want to make sure veterinarians are well equipped to create social change that benefits society. It is vitally important to us here at Penn Vet that we prepare current and future veterinarians for a world characterized by inequity and so many pressing issues, including food and water insecurity, international migration, communicable disease, and loss of habitat and biodiversity. In addition to our roles in social entrepreneurship, veterinarians must be at the table in commercial ventures that involve animals and lead the way so that animals have a knowledgeable advocate in business innovations and solutions.

Q. Who would benefit from attending?

A. Participants from either the academic or the business sector, social or commercial entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, academic leaders, and veterinary clinicians will find this program valuable. Also from a corporate side, directors of research and development, directors of innovation, or other business unit leaders who have been tasked with finding new sources of revenue within an existing veterinary service or product will find the program relevant.

Q. What is the cost?

A. The cost of the four-day program is $4,900 and includes tuition, meals, and accommodation at the Steinberg Conference Center on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Hoffman
Dr. Andy Hoffman, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Courtesy of Penn Vet)

Q. What will the program involve?

A. The program is designed to prepare individuals to take on an entrepreneurial mindset that may be outside their areas of education and experience. It will introduce foundational skills needed to develop a new product, service, or venture with growth potential or to even identify opportunities within an existing organization.

The program includes the following topics:

  • The role of leadership within the context of entrepreneurship.
  • New global challenges and the opportunities they pose for veterinarians.
  • The changing human health care landscape.
  • Leveraging resources and partnerships.
  • Social entrepreneurship.
  • Veterinary trends.

Q. What happened to the Penn Executive Veterinary Leadership Program: Making an Impact as a Global Health Leader?

A. The Penn Executive Veterinary Program was retired last year. The program ran for eight years and was outstanding, but a greater focus on entrepreneurship will provide veterinarians with skills to initiate and assess ventures that have commercial and social impact.

Q. What's next?

A. The Leading Veterinary Entrepreneurship program is the first step of our multiphased effort to introduce new educational programming that will prepare veterinarians and veterinary students for entrepreneurial careers. The program is also a part of Penn Vet's larger effort to establish a veterinary continuum of learning related to entrepreneurship by integrating new online classes, dual degree programs, and a student-driven business certification program offered through the Veterinary Business Management Association.


Get more information about the Cornell program, the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy, and the Leading Veterinary Entrepreneurship program at Penn Vet.


Related JAVMA content:

Veterinary association created to counter corporate influence (May 01, 2019)