Muma College of Business Signs Agreement with H-FARM in Italy to Offer Graduate Degrees in Entrepreneurship
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (December 2, 2019) -- An agreement signed earlier this fall will span an ocean, connect continents and link the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business with H-FARM Education, a private institution in Italy that creates and nurtures startups and educates budding entrepreneurs. Beginning in the fall of 2020, students there will be eligible to earn credits that will result in a USF master’s degree in entrepreneurship.
The agreement says USF faculty will teach a majority of the courses, both in person and online, and a limited number of graduate students in the entrepreneurship program here will have the opportunity to take courses there.
H-FARM, established in 2005 and located in Treviso, Italy, near Venice, is a “hub where innovation, entrepreneurship and education are combined together,” according to the college’s webpage. “We have been the first in the world to adopt a model that brings together investments, business consultancy and digitally augmented educational programs all into one place and now we are the most important innovation center in Europe.”
The 17-page collaborative agreement was signed in September by Riccardo Donadon, founder, chairman and CEO of H-FARM; Moez Limayem, dean of the USF Muma College of Business, and Roger Brindley, vice president of USF World.
“For years, the Muma College of Business has sought to share the expertise and knowledge of its faculty to those beyond the university’s gate,” Limayem said. “This opportunity with H-FARM in Italy is an extension of that effort to instill in our students, both here and abroad, a sense of a global business community.
“Our plan is to offer an education that rivals the best in the world and to do that, we need to go around the world to make it available,” he said. “It’s not a new concept. We have done this in places like Peru and Singapore and now we’re showing our European neighbors what we are all about.
“Our nationally –- and internationally –- ranked entrepreneurship programs," he said, "are about to find a brand new audience.”
Dirk Libaers, assistant director of the USF Center for Entrepreneurship, helped spearhead the effort after a suggestion came from Jack Rader, a retired Muma College of Business professor now teaching at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. The agreement makes sense, Libaers said.
“It expands the Muma College of Business’ global footprint, brand and reputation,” he said, “There is tremendous synergy between the programs at USF and H-FARM and not only in entrepreneurship. In other words, there is ample scope for future program development.”
H-FARM has created a campus in Barcelona, Spain, is in the process of setting up a campus in Berlin and is in talks with several other major European cities to create additional H-FARM campuses, he said.
“By piggybacking on the expansion of the network of H-FARM campuses, this collaboration enables the Muma College of Business to potentially offer its degrees in multiple locations around Europe,” Libaers said. And there is a like-mindedness, he said.
“H-FARM and the Muma College of Business share a philosophy of experiential learning,” he said, “whereby students learn by doing.”
This is not the first time the business school has reached out beyond the borders.
In 2007, the USF College of Business struck an agreement with Broward Community College and the Center for American Education to offer an undergraduate USF business degree in Singapore.
In 2011, USF partnered with Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola in Lima, Peru, offering an opportunity for students there to earn USF degrees in business administration with both a Spanish and English program. At the time, it was the only program in which a U.S. university partnered to grant undergraduate, accredited degrees in English in South America. Since then, 110 Peruvian students have earned USF degrees with several dozen coming to USF for their final semesters. Six more will graduate in December.
Just this past year, USF has entered a partnership with Guru Nanak Dev University in Punjab, India, to establish a program of exchange and collaboration in the areas of entrepreneurship development and related matters.
In the agreement with H-FARM, USF will maintain control of the content and administration of the graduate-level program and all academic standards will adhere to those of the existing Muma College of Business Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Applied Technologies degree. The program must satisfy the requirements of all accreditation organizations, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the organization through which USF is accredited, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which provides accreditation to the Muma College of Business.
The program is cohort-based, with a maximum enrollment per cohort of 50 students. The Muma College of Business will have the final say as to which applicants are accepted into the program. Courses will be taught in English.
Up to five USF students may participate in the program and they will pay tuition and fees to USF, but are responsible for other expenses, including housing and food, living expenses and travel. Likewise, up to five H-FARM students will be allowed to study for one semester at USF in Florida, paying tuition and fees to H-FARM and bearing the travel and living expenses themselves.
Some courses will be taught by USF faculty and be offered in a hybrid format and that may require instructors to travel to Italy to deliver classes face-to-face.
The term of the agreement is five years and may be renewed at that time. The program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2020.