October 16, 2023

The Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation partners with Health Center South to empower local entrepreneurs

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Marnix E. Heersink, M.D., a longtime supporter of UAB, donated a transformational gift that named the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine and established and named the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation. Heersink and his family opened Health Center South, a medical complex in Dothan for doctors of all specialties, encouraging innovative, custom-designed practices that reflect their strengths, facilitating sustainable growth and innovation. 

The Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation is an extension of Heersink’s vision, devoted to driving the transformation of health and health care by future-proofing the health care workforce and fostering and facilitating high-value innovation that will improve health outcomes and economic development. One way the institute has done this is through the Dothan Community Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, which was held at the Health Center South Medical Tower.

The six-week program was co-hosted by the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation and Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business to help those in the Dothan area facing economic or other hardships to start and grow a business of their own. The program was adapted from a program developed by the University of Notre Dame in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Council, a local education and advocacy group for entrepreneurs.

Participants benefitted from intense, hands-on exposure to the fundamentals of launching and growing a successful venture. The program was taught by faculty from both UAB and Troy, subject matter experts, and successful entrepreneurs.

Topics covered in the program addressed all facets of a successful venture, ranging from the development of a viable business concept to understanding the market, designing the profit model, setting up operations properly, marketing the venture, and understanding the basic numbers.

The underlying focus was on how to think and act in entrepreneurial ways, including growing a venture with limited resources. The approach was interactive, and participants were encouraged to bring their business ideas and challenges into the weekly discussions. The time together also allowed participants to network with program instructors, speakers, and other participants.

The boot camp occurred on six consecutive Saturdays in the spring. At the end of the course, participants were awarded certificates of completion, and several awards were given, highlighting their accomplishments.
Heersink's vision and the dedicated efforts of all those involved in this initiative have illuminated a path of hope and empowerment for the entrepreneurship community in South Alabama. This program is a testament to the impact of philanthropy, collaboration, and commitment to nurturing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.