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Eco-Entrepreneurship Focus

Addressing serious environmental and natural-resource problems requires ingenuity, agile thinking, and innovation.

Bren's Eco-Entrepreneurship (Eco-E) focus is an experiential curriculum designed for Master of Environmental Science and Management students who wish to develop an entrepreneurial and impact-oriented mindset. An Eco-E skillset is highly valuable to those pursuing a career in corporate social responsibility, nonprofit management, public sector leadership, or social and environmental entrepreneurship.

As a MESM student at Bren, you can choose one or more optional academic focus areas to enhance your master’s program experience. In the Eco-E focus area, you will develop agile thinking, engage in idea generation, conduct industry research, and perform market validation, as you develop a business model that addresses a significant environmental challenge. Many graduates have successfully launched new ventures, which were ideas developed and tested through the Eco-E focus or as an Eco-E Project.

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Companies Launched

Bren School graduates have successfully launched companies developed in the MESM program. Award-winning companies launched from Eco-E include:

The Hurd Co. (2019)

Reducing the impacts of the apparel supply chain through harnessing waste from the Cannabis industry.

EV Match (2016)

Reducing the barriers to electric vehicle use by matching EV owners with reliable charging options in their community.

Charborn (2014)

Connecting producers of biochar soil amendment with farmers to boost production and save water.

BranchOut (2017)

Unlocking the outdoors through play-based curriculum.

Salty Girl Seafood (2014)

Improving access to sustainable, traceable seafood across the U.S.

Focus Area Coursework

The Eco-E focus area offers courses in entrepreneurship, leadership, innovation, business strategy, finance, marketing, strategic planning and more. As focus areas are optional for MESM students, focus area coursework is completed in addition to the core curriculum and chosen specialization requirements.

Required (10 units)

ESM 256A  Intro to Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation (2 units)
ESM 256B  New Venture Opportunity Analysis (4 units)

One of the following (4 units)

ESM 402A  New Venture Formation (4 units)
TMP 269  Creating a Market-Tested Business Model (4 units)

Electives (min 4 units)

ESM 230  Strategic Planning for Non-Profit Ventures (4 units)
ESM 269  Survey Design and Environmental Public Opinion (2 units)
ESM 279  Financial Management and Environmental Accounting (4 units)
TMP 240  Business Strategy and Leadership Skills (4 units)
TMP 241  Managing for Innovation (4 units)*
TMP 242  Entrepreneurship (4 units)*
TMP 244  Entrepreneurial Marketing (3 units)*
TMP 246  New Venture Finance (3 units)*
TMP 255  New Product Development (4 units)*

*Several electives are part of the Graduate Program in Management Practice (GPMP), a UC-recognized certificate offered by the Technology Management Program at UCSB.

Any MESM student may choose to take Eco-E courses (ESM) as electives.

Eco-E Project

Eco-Entrepreneurship focus students may choose to apply their concepts learned through an Eco-E Project. Eco-E Project teams of 3-5 students collaborate over the course of a year to develop a business model intended to bring a new, commercially viable product or service to market and to make a positive and measurable environmental impact. 

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Students pursuing an Eco-E Project develop and refine a business model, learning agile thinking to pivot strategy in light of new information and analyses. Eco-E Projects receive funding to develop small-scale pilot projects or prototypes to obtain early customer feedback. You'll learn to cultivate a network of advisors, including faculty and industry experts. During the course of the project, you gain experience by regularly presenting your business model to colleagues, advisors, industry experts, and judging panels. You emerge with solid experience managing team dynamics, developing strategies, engaging in outreach and communications, and formally presenting your business case.

Eco-E Mentorship

Eco-E students receive guidance and mentorship from a variety of local entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders. The Eco-Entrepreneurship Advisory Council (EEAC) meets quarterly with all Eco-E students to provide ongoing feedback throughout the two-year MESM program. At the end of each quarter in each required Eco-E focus course, teams present to a judging panel for critical feedback and a fresh perspective. In addition, Eco-E teams are assigned mentors and select external advisors from relevant industries who can provide insight into current industry dynamics and share contacts within their industry.

Two students with laptops having discussion with advisor

Are you ready to solve environmental problems?

Request more information, bring your questions to an admissions webinar, or start your online application.