A tripartite agreement on understanding and cooperation was signed between Varna Free University Chernorizets Hrabar, the Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Centre Foundation and the InterCulture Foundation of the US Financial Advisor and Investment Manager Larry Biehl.
The document launched a wide range of activities, including the start of a master's degree programme in entrepreneurshipwith lecturers from Silicon Valley. They aim to make Varna Free University a centre for Eastern and Central Europe for setting upsmall and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and social entrepreneurship as well as to turn it into a major provider of commercial and marketing skills.
„ This programme transfers the good practice, the best lecturers of the Silicon Valley as well as the big experience of entrepreneurs who have reached specific results. The programme will start in October. We have the exceptional opportunity to receive a financial, practical and methodic help. The good news is that we’ll have thirty scholarships for the first course of students of the Master’s programme. The programme spans 3 semesters for the graduates with degrees in similar professional areas and four semesters for nonspecialists. The training will be in English.” - said the Pesident of Varna Free University Prof. Anna Nedyalkova, D.Sc.
“ I’m here because I want to build a bridge between the Silicone Valley and Bulgaria. Today the next step of this initiative is already a fact with the signing of the tripartite agreement on understanding and cooperation.
I’ve been working on the programme for a year already, sharing successful stories from the Silicone Valley where I live. We had six stories to share , three from Bulgaria and three from America. In front of the big auditoriums, one of which was here at VFU, we explained how we managed to accomplish our goal. In 2018 I was busy to select the educational sources that will be used and to prepare the curriculum. I visited some prestigious universities and they all agreed to take part in our initiative and together with the Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Centre to establish this Master’s programme.
Partners of the master’s programme are three american universities – Santa Clara in California, Standford University and The University of Edinburgh. The lecturers are also known - Norman Winarsky – one of the creators of Siri application, Michael Marvin - a leading name in the Tech Valley, the equivalent of the Silicon Valley in New York – a PhD holder and a successful entrepreneur, Jamie Williams - the Founder, President, and CEO of the San Francisco Bay Area film production company Y Motion Media, Ernest J. Wilson III, Ph.D., professor of communication and political science, founder and director of the USC Center for Third Space Thinking, and Larry Biehl himself.
Our foundation decided to become a sponsor of the first course of students which will give them a chance to continue their education and improvement. We’ll apply the individual approach in giving scholarships so that each student could be associated with a successful story in the Silicon Valley. That will bring three benefits. First, we’ll have the funding to start the programme, second, we’ll build a network. We’ll have thirty-one people from the Silicon Valley who will keep contact with the university. This will give us the opportunity to have an existing course before we show ourselves to the world. This course will demonstrate what we’ve reached and what happens actually. Our main goal will not be to attract students but to choose people who will gain their place at the course. We offer education where it’s not enough just to pay and have it, you must do your best to deserve it. This is the right way to attract people with motivation.”, said the founder of the “InterCulture” foundation Larry Biehl.
He is a financial advisor and investment manager with more than 50 years of professional experience who has worked with Silicon Valley technology companies. He also did asset management, personal finance management of technology entrepreneurs, branding and marketing of nonprofit companies and non-governmental organizations. He is the author of a textbook on finance and has publications in prestigious economic editions. Biehl also added that : ” The Varna experience has contributed to the world’s development.” He thinks that sometimes it’s easier to work with a smaller country. “You have the population of the Silicone Valley – 6 million people. In Bulgaria you have stronger family ties than in America. Here the families stick together, people support one another and thus they survive. When someone has a family he is more responsible as an employee and becomes a good specialist. Something has to be done about gaining wealth in this country. The companies should be founded here so that they can recruit local people. The social services here are not well developed. Our efforts will be focused on setting up new culture of offering social support”, added Larry Biehl.
“ Some of the richest and most successful people live in the Silicone Valley. The fact that Varna Free University launches such a programme in entrepreneurship which will bring famous people here is a real event. The father of the artificial intellect, Norman Winarsky, is expected to be a guest lecturer. The Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Centre will take care of the logistics and the visits of these people.”, commented Lily Drumeva, the leader of the Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Centre.
The financial advisor and investment manager Larry Biehl was accompanied by his wife and cofounder of the InterCulture Foundation, Margaret Creuser, Joanne Bond - a certified business leadership coach, with more than 30 years of professional experience, Trish Kalbas-Schmidtis the Director of the MOBI (My Own Business Initiative) programme at the University of Santa Clara, California, Anton Tonev – a certified financial analyst, Lily Drumeva, the leader of the Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Centre and Delyan Popov - “Educational programmes” manager at the BEC.
The american guests met with students, lecturers and business representatives a little past 11 o’clock at conference hall 3 of the Educational and Sport Centre of Varna Free University. The discussions focused on the advantages of MOBI ( My own business initiative), as well as the upcoming master’s degree programme of Varna Free University.
The partnership between Larry Biehl’s foundation and Varna Free University started last year when mentors from the Silicon Valley visited the university and spoke about the creativity, the innovations and the entrepreneurship. They explained what “ dare to be awesome” is , how important the team work is, and how dreams come true.