The University of Utah to Build Impact Investing Center

 In Social Capital

The university has received a $13 million donation from technology entrepreneur James Lee Sorenson, a graduate of University of Utah. Unlike other universities, such as Duke and Michigan, that focus on social entrepreneurship, this Center will focus on early stage investing, and measure social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

The Center falls under the David Eccles School of Business and open to both undergrad and graduate students who are studying business. Students enrolled at the Center will work 20 hours a week focusing on healthcare, education, housing, sustainable and green energy, agriculture and entrepreneurial livelihood training and development. They can participate for a semester or their entire college career in the Center.

Real-world experience is also expected. A foundation may approach the Center, for example, and ask for help analyzing whether or not to invest in a particular project. At the same time, a social enterprise might ask to be put in contact with appropriate funding sources. Students would then do an analysis to see which financing alternatives might be the best.

“Instead of taking an exam and hoping that you do well on it, teams of students will be presenting investment opportunities to Jim and his foundation. There is no more real situation than that,” Taylor Randall, dean of the Eccles School of Business at University of Utah, told Reuters.

Sorenson founded Sorenson Media in 1995, which laid the framework for the online video industry. Sorenson Media developed the technology that enabled Apple QuickTime, Adobe Flash and YouTube. His company was also involved in developing ‘video relay services’ designed for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

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