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Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Action

This year marks the inaugural award of the James Ian Gray Scholarship in Entrepreneurial Studies, given to one innovative student each year, based on their contributions to entrepreneurship at MSU. The scholarship seeks to support current MSU students who study entrepreneurship and experience the risks that accompany starting their own company. 

The MSU Innovation Center is proud to award this $10,000 scholarship to Zoe Zappitell, co-founder of the startup company Conecter, and president of the MSU Women in Entrepreneurship student organization.

Ian Gray, PhD, the scholarship’s namesake, is MSU’s past vice president for research and graduate studies, and one of the founding leaders behind the creation of the MSU Innovation Center (home of the Hatch, MSU’s student entrepreneurship incubator) and Spartan Innovations (providing programmatic support for the experiential side of student startups). 

Built with the generous donation of Donald C. Anderson, M.D., a physician, pediatric cancer researcher, drug discoverer, and entrepreneur, this gift encourages and supports promising students who choose to pursue entrepreneurship as part of their undergraduate experience. 

Zappitell is an active champion of the MSU entrepreneurship environment; she frequently volunteers her time to support other students, MSU entrepreneurship programs, and Hatch events. Along with co-founder Brittany Urich, her startup Conecter was a member of the inaugural Conquer Business Accelerator cohort in 2016 as well. 

Students are chosen for the scholarship based on engagement with the MSU Innovation Center, participation in coursework as part of the undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship, utilization of opportunities to interact with commercial entities, and experience risk-taking in an effort to expand entrepreneurial efforts while completing a degree. Students who are awarded the James Ian Gray Scholarship are eligible to receive it for two consecutive years.