Open Minis: Supporting Early Stage Innovators

Pre-idea Entrepreneurs: Supporting the earliest stages of entrepreneurship to fix things that matter

Does a person need to have an idea to be an entrepreneur? Are “”A-HA!”” moments the pre-requisite to enter the entrepreneurial ecosystem? From within the Master’s Program in Entrepreneurship, Technology & Innovation (ESTEEM) at the University of Notre Dame, a new pilot program is challenging these assumptions. The Venture Founders Program matches pre-idea, entrepreneurial students with pressing challenges and utilizes a structured process, including systems mapping, design thinking, and the business model canvas, to create idea-stage ventures that leverage market opportunities to create impact. From antibiotic resistance, to digital literacy, to the skills gap, these students are leveraging their technical backgrounds by starting from the beginning of the entrepreneurial journey; problem landscaping and opportunity recognition. Program manager Dustin Mix will share lessons learned from the pilot program and a current student will share the ups and downs of their journey from a pre-idea entrepreneur to an idea-stage venture founder.

Dustin Mix, University of Notre Dame
Madeline Zupan, University of Notre Dame
Maria Gibbs, University of Notre Dame
Eva Marie Costello, University of Notre Dame

PSU Cleantech Challenge Competition: Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in Oregon

Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship outside urban centers is big challenge. During the last four years the PSU Center for Entrepreneurship has developed and implemented a framework to create collegiate competitions to incentivize invention and entrepreneurship with underrepresented communities located in and outside urban centers. By sharing key elements of our framework we are hoping to inspire other institutions across the country to develop their own collegiate competitions and local and state partnerships that will allow them to engage with community leaders to provide a unified front to support inventors and entrepreneurs at their own colleges/universities.

Juan Manuel Barraza, Portland State University
Amanda Stowe, University of Portland

Startup Immersion Treks: How to ensure success (and attendance) when taking students outside the classroom

Do you struggle getting students to take advantage of experiential learning opportunities? Are you tired of having 40 students sign-up for an alumni/industry event only to have seven of them show up? Are you interested in engaging alumni in experiential learning opportunities but find costs to be prohibitive? The biggest challenges to quality experiential learning opportunities are unreliable student attendance, gaining substantial interest from industry partners, and controlling rising costs. Over the past year, our Startup Immersion Trek program has increased student participation by 200% (227 applications in ‘15-16), tripled the participation of alumni/industry leaders (over 250), and reduced per student costs by 35%. Most importantly, attrition of student attendees was nearly eliminated; of the 140 students offered the opportunity to attend, 139 showed up to participate. In this session we will share the tools, format, and strategies used to implement this transformation and lay out a framework to create it on other campuses.

Matt Gibson, University of Michigan
Eric Bacyinski, University of Michigan

Fostering Student Innovators Through Small Prototyping Grants: Lessons from the Innovation Program at Portland State University

Since its inception in fall 2010, the Innovation Program in Portland State University’’s Engineering College has had the mission to create an environment and culture that will inspire young engineers to become true innovators”. The program’’s main pillar is the “The Beta Project,” which supports student-initiated projects with up to $1,000. We consciously protect nascent ideas from known “innovation killers”, such as too much structure, heavy-handed judging and mentoring, and early emphasis on business value. Instead, we focus on experiential learning in self-selected projects and emphasize prototyping. We use current research findings on how to achieve innovation in business settings as a framework to reflect on successes, challenges and our “lessons learned”.

Antonie Jetter, Portland State University
Gerald Recktenwald, Portland State University

Track: Early Stage Innovators

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