KEARNEY – Social distancing isn’t an issue for University of Nebraska at Kearney student Madison Dimmitt.
The companies she’s working with during the coronavirus crisis are an ocean away.
Dimmitt, an advertising and public relations major from Kearney, is one of 11 student scholars participating in the Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) launched in January by UNK’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development. The pilot program brings UNK faculty and students together to think innovatively about their fields of study and explore ways to grow rural Nebraska through entrepreneurship.
Supported by grant funding from the Aksarben Foundation, the academy challenges each team to develop and execute plans for a business, product or service while promoting the experiential, hands-on learning emphasized at UNK.
Dimmitt and Sonja Bickford, an assistant professor in UNK’s Department of Communication, are partnering with two Finnish companies on a project in market entry research.
The UNK team is working with Silverbucket, which provides project management software for companies throughout Europe. Silverbucket is entering the North American market with its current product and planning a U.S. launch of its new time-tracking product Actually.
The other Finnish company engaged in the collaboration is Vetter Communications, which has been essential in building the bridge between Silverbucket and UNK’s IDEA program. Vetter Communications helps companies build international relationships by providing multilingual communication and public relations services on a global scale.
“We are thrilled to be part of Silverbucket’s journey to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Vetter Communications CEO Jutta Vetter. “Enabling international collaborations like this one is always a great honor for us, and we feel privileged to be working with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.”
Toni Uimonen, board chairman and co-founder of Silverbucket, is also excited about the partnership.
“With the IDEA program, we are targeting to establish successful routes to the U.S. market now and in the future,” he said.
Bickford, one of six faculty fellows in the IDEA program, said the experience of using online communication software and learning international business etiquette will be invaluable for Dimmitt as she pursues a career in advertising and public relations.
It’s a unique opportunity for a student from the Midwest, especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m taking what I’ve learned in class on a theoretical level and applying it on an actual international project, which is really exciting,” said Dimmitt, a senior at UNK. “I’m a contributing member of a professional team where I’m directly collaborating and communicating with international entrepreneurs, in addition to learning about business cultures abroad. This is really giving me the drive to push forward during this pandemic.”
During the yearlong project, Dimmitt will conduct targeted marketing research for Silverbucket and assist Vetter Communications with the copywriting of materials for the U.S. market. Dimmitt hopes to travel to Finland for a job shadowing experience in late summer or fall.
She plans to present this research at a regional conference in Nebraska.
“The work of Dr. Bickford and IDEA student scholar Madison Dimmitt is an excellent example of our vision for the IDEA program – creating the opportunity for Madison to work with dynamic, global companies on innovative steps to grow and expand their markets. The experiential impact of this project aligns with the educational vision we have for students at UNK,” said Lisa Tschauner, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development.