Monday, June 26, 2017 Categories:

Meet Michael Brien, artist, entrepreneur, veteran—and proud graduate of the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP).

He’s one of a couple of dozen graduates of last year’s week-long VEP, a boot camp-like training event that ran more than eight intense, information-packed hours daily at the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation.

“It was a truly great experience, especially because it was run in a way that those of us with military experience could understand and appreciate,” said Brien, who’s from the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. “The best thing about VEP is sharing the entrepreneur experience with fellow veterans.”

This highly praised program takes place again this year at the Center.

The Center for Innovation Foundation and the School of Entrepreneurship at UND—named last year the fourth site for the national VEP.

The VEP designation comes in partnership with three other top college-based entrepreneurship programs: Oklahoma State University, University of Florida; University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

VEP serves veterans who meet the following three requirements:

•Have separated from active duty service (or are in the process of separating) with an honorable discharge

•Are identified as disabled by the Veteran’s Administration or DOD based on a service-connected disability (or) are service distinguished based on exemplary military conduct

•Demonstrate an intense motivation to start or grow a business


The Center for Innovation Foundation is now accepting application for its 2017 VEP program, which is free of charge to disabled veterans. For more information/application:

Online instruction begins Aug. 21; the VEP Boot Camp is scheduled for Oct. 21-28, 2017, in the UND Center for Innovation.

The application deadline is July 29. If you or someone you know qualifies for the program and would like to submit an application, please contact the Center for Innovation Foundation at 701.777.3132. If you have any other inquiries, please direct them to Tyler Okerlund at 701.777.6632, or

For more detailed information about or for an application to the Veterans Entrepreneurship program, please go to  You can download a 2017 VEP brochure here:

VEP: Rigorous, transformative

“The program is a rigorous and transformative entrepreneurship program that helps veterans who have paid such a price for our freedom pursue their dreams of owning a business,” says program director and organizer Tyler Okerlund.  “For those veterans with a real passion to start or grow a venture, VEP is the boost they need.”

VEP begins with a five-week online course, including online discussions and assessment moderated by entrepreneurship faculty. The veterans involved with the program will develop business concepts and begin preparing for the second phase of the training course.

The boot camp consists of a week of hands-on learning and face-to-face interaction between the veterans, faculty, guest entrepreneurs and business experts. Nationally ranked entrepreneurship program faculty from around the country will be in attendance to give vets an inside look at how a start-up business really works.

Mentoring and venture development, the third and final phase of VEP, includes ongoing mentorship and online networking. The phase is designed to give the vets feedback relating to concerns specific to their ventures.

Media contact

And send application materials to:

Tyler Okerlund

Toll Free:  1-866-580-4821

Phone: 701-777-6623

Fax: 701-777-2339

Address: 4200 James Ray Drive

Grand Forks, ND 58202


Additional media contact:

Juan Pedraza