Tim Tiemann, managing director of CSUN’s Innovation Incubator in the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, has been asked by the U.S. State Department to develop similar business incubators with South Africa’s universities this fall.

“The goal is to work with South Africa’s academic institutions and help lay the foundation so that they can do what we have done at CSUN, which is to encourage those who aren’t being served at the moment, think about how they can fill those gaps and, in the process, start their own businesses or nonprofits,” Tiemann said in a statement. “When you are part of a community, particularly a community whose needs are not being met, you know what the gaps are, what the needs are. An incubator is a place where those entrepreneurs willing to meet those needs — whether a product or a service – can find encouragement and support.”


Tiemann will work with South African universities virtually, sharing the framework at California State University – Northridge’s incubator and discussing ways officials can adapt it to serve the needs of the students at their institutions, particularly women and students of underserved populations. He undertook a similar project with officials at universities in Vietnam several years ago.


The CSUN Innovation Incubator, which Tiemann has managed since 2017, aims to provide students the opportunity to develop business ideas working alongside established professionals using “lean” startup methods.


“We’re not here as a job center, though some people may see us as such,” Tiemann said. “One of the best things universities do is bring a diverse group of people together for creative collaboration and exploration of new ideas. Entrepreneurship does all of that. But we’re not restricting it to biochemists somewhere with a new drug. We’re expanding it to people who are figuring out new ways, new apps, new products that provide solutions to problems or needs in their communities.”