Feb. 2, 2006--With its emphasis on giving undergraduates real-life business-building experience, Babson College's Foundation Management Experience recently nabbed an award for having the nation's most "Innovative Entrepreneurship Course."

"We are honored to receive this award," Patricia Green, Babson's undergraduate dean, said in a statement. "The talent and culture of Babson really does create a uniquely powerful higher-education environment."

The United States Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship (USASBE) presented the award on January 14, as part of its Excellence in Education Awards.

The FME curriculum was created in 1996 to give all first-year students a combination of both class work and actual business training. Heidi Neck, assistant professor in Babson's entrepreneurship division, quotes Babson College founder Roger Babson who once said, "It makes no sense to study business management until you understand business creation."

For one year, students work together in teams to invent, develop, launch, manage, and liquidate a business using a loan of $3,000 in seed money provided by Babson. Students donate their year-end profits and volunteer six hours of their time to a community service project of their choice.

"I'm in my fifth year of teaching and I have yet to see a [student] company not pay back that loan," said Heidi Neck, assistant professor of the entrepreneurship division. "I don't know of any other school that starts a program like this at the freshman level."

John Harrison, a junior at Babson, said he chose Babson because he was looking for a "small-business school with a strong reputation." In 2004, Harrison acted as the CFO of his team's business called Babsonopoly - which made a game similar to Monopoly, geared to the Babson Community.

"We were a very successful business, not because we raised 15,000 dollars (an FME record at the time) but because we fostered a positive working environment where we felt everyone contributed significantly to the business," Harrison said.

The average business sales revenue from these student companies in 2005 was a combined $15,000. Since 1999, FME students have donated more than $218,000 and 15,000 hours of community service to some 50 area organizations.