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UPenn Receives $1.5 Million to Enhance E-Business Program

The University of Pennsylvania Wednesday announced the receipt of a $1.5 million gift from Internet Capital Group (ICG) to enhance its e-business program.

The newly launched ICG/Wharton Forum on Electronic Business will accelerate the growth of e-business and fundamentally change the way business is done, according to a university spokesperson. The collaboration is an extension of the university's Wharton e-Business Initiative (WeBI), formed in 1996.

"We are creating knowledge through research conducted by the Wharton School's 75 faculty members and dialog with industry partners," explained Dr. Raffi Amit, director of WeBI. "We use this knowledge to enhance and augment our educational programs as well as create new ones." Industry partners include The Gartner Group, Charles Schwab & Co., Ford Motor Co., Squibb and British Airways.

The Fellows in e-Business Program is the first effort of the ICG/WeBI collaboration. The program is designed to prepare senior business executives to lead the transformation into a global e-business environment.

The model of the Fellows program is radically different than other courses, Amit added. "The four-month program uses a combination of one-week, face-to-face sessions at sites around the globe and is augmented with distance learning and advanced networking technologies to build a learning community," he said. Sessions take place in Philadelphia, Silicon Valley and Barcelona.

The structure of the program is such that participants can immediately apply material covered to their firms through "shadow projects," which they conduct with selected employees in their own company. "In this way, the executive becomes a catalyst for transformation within his or her organization," said Amit. "Further, the course is lifelong. Fellows and participating faculty form a community of learners who jointly develop new knowledge modules as needs emerge."

The second effort is the Technology Entrepreneurship Internship program. "Through this program, MBA students intern at emerging growth technology companies or venture capital firms on both the East and West Coasts," explained Amit. "Once enrolled in the program, participants access a secured course site that will serve as their primary communications hub for course assignments, readings, and online discussions and interaction.

"During their internships, the students have joint learning sessions where ideas are communicated and the students present those ideas to the company. There is no other way that this information can be so easily gained and easily shared. This is a unique opportunity to turn theory into practice," he said. "Since we are holding the class on both coasts, this program provides a great opportunity for students to compare East- and West-Coast perspectives on major technology entrepreneurship issues."

The Internet Capital Group engages in B2B e-commerce through a network of partner companies and provides operational assistance, capital support, industry expertise and a strategic network of relationships.

The collaboration with Wharton will accelerate e-business adoption, according to Walter Buckley, president and CEO of ICG. "The skills, experience and legacy understanding of business evolution within this collaboration represents a cumulative and aggregate B2B knowledge base unmatched in the industry," he said. "We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge while leveraging Wharton's deep understanding of business evolution and the Fortune 500 to benefit the growth of our partner companies."