Wake Forest University will give entrepreneurship in the Triad a boost over the next three years with the help of a $596,679 federal grant.

University officials disclosed Thursday that the National Science Foundation had awarded the money.

The Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts as well as the College of Arts and Sciences will oversea a project called “Partnership for Innovation: Creating Academic Community Partnerships, Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship in a Liberal Arts Institution.”

Recognized by Fortune Small Business magazine in its first list of “America’s Best Colleges for Entrepreneurs” last year, Wake Forest said the grant will help the university expand on its entrepreneurial efforts.

“This project marks the beginning of a new phase in the development of the entrepreneurship program at Wake Forest,” said Elizabeth Gatewood, director of the entrepreneurship program. “It will enhance the opportunities for students to expand on their classroom learning with hands-on experiences such as internships, shadowing and mentoring programs with established entrepreneurs, workshops, speaker events and a virtual network of experts from whom aspiring entrepreneurs can obtain guidance in market research, designing prototypes, writing business plans and finding funding. Ultimately, these collaborations will result in economic activity, creation of value and greater social well-being.”

The grant is designed to foster the creation of a network for private sector, nonprofits and local governments that together can help launch new ventures.

According to Gatewood, the program will focus on the Triad.

The NSF grant follows a $2.17 million five-year grant from the Kauffman Foundation in 2004. With that funding, the university stepped up entrepreneurship efforts that has thus far involved 75 faculty members across 24 departments as well as 4,300 students.

Other organizations involved in the program range from the Center for Design Innovation to the Piedmont Triad Research Park and the Piedmont Angel Network as well as the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, which has an office in Winston-Salem.

An example cited by the Wake Forest group of its efforts is the Center for Design Innovation, which is a joint research effort formed by N.C. School of the Arts, Winston-Salem State and Forsyth Technical Community College. The center has been working with BioBotz, a startup company created by six Wake Forest students.