UA Awarded Research Grant to Focus on Entrepreneurship, Business Growth

Dr. Theresa Welbourne
Dr. Theresa Welbourne

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama was awarded a $100,000 grant to support research to understand the factors leading to the successes and failures of businesses that went public in 1996, the largest initial public stock offering class on record.

The grant will fund research surrounding the “IPO Class of 1996” over the last 20 years and will be conducted by Dr. Theresa Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute at UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce, and colleagues.

“Our research focuses on understanding the contributing factors of both short and long-term performance of these unique companies, as well as survival of businesses post IPO,” Welbourne said. “The 1996 cohort is the largest to date, and if we can learn more about what separates successful businesses from the rest, we can share those lessons with entrepreneurs, investors and bankers who work to make successful IPOs.”

The research will be presented at the 2016 Entrepreneurship and Growth Leadership Summit, at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center in Kansas City, Missouri Nov. 2-3. The Leadership Summit, Managing the Paradoxes of Business Growth, is in partnership with The University of Alabama and marks the 20th anniversary of the IPO class.

The research and the summit presentation brings together CEOs from businesses in the 1996 cohort as well as investment bankers, CEOs considering going public, investment bankers, venture capitalists, executives from larger organizations focused on innovation and growth, and educators who teach entrepreneurship, innovation and finance.

Welbourne believes the results of the studies presented are applicable to a wide range of business people. Also, given the current dire state of IPOs (fall off in number of businesses going public), the new knowledge presented at the conference can shed light on how going public, in any type of business climate, can drive successful business growth

“This grant will apply not only to IPOs, but to organizations growing via other strategies such as mergers, acquisitions, private equity funding or organic growth,” Welbourne said. “The hope is that if entrepreneurs use this information, they will experience increased wealth with higher stock price growth, higher rates of business survival, additional innovation and job growth.”

Conference speakers include Michael Arena of General Motors who is an expert on innovation; Robert Felton of DevonWay Inc., a serial entrepreneur who is included in the 1996 IPO cohort; and Dan Weinfurter of Growth Play, a specialist in driving growth through high-quality sales initiatives.

The research project is a partnership with the University of Southern California’s Center for Effective Organizations and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, who awarded the grant.

For more about the conference, contact Welbourne at and follow the conference blog. Register here.


Edith Parten, UA media relations, 205/348-8318


Theresa Welbourne,