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Bobcat Seed Fund accelerates student business development across campus through the Center for Entrepreneurship

Monday, June 18 2018 01:06am

As the development of Ohio University’s new “CoLab” facility in Alden Library is underway, the Center for Entrepreneurship plans to use a portion of the Bobcat Seed Fund, a $25,000 grant awarded by the Office of the President, to support student entrepreneurs building out their business concepts, promote the center and strengthen the spirit of entrepreneurship on campus.  

The funding will be split between the following three initiatives:

Student Business Development Grants

Students will now have access to small grants through the Center for Entrepreneurship to pay for certain resources needed to start their business, such as legal services, software development or prototype creation.  Students will have to submit an application to the Center to receive the funding.  

Entrepreneurship and Business Analytics student Matt Benson is creating an app designed to improve weight room efficiency by providing specialized workouts for athletes at all performance levels as well as data collection capabilities for coaches. Benson’s app is currently in the beta testing phase with local middle and high school athletic programs.

“As a sophomore, this funding could be really beneficial for paying the costs involved in launching and marketing my app,” said Benson, co-owner of Weight Room Technologies LTD.

Promotional Support Through Faculty

To assist with promotion of the Center for Entrepreneurship, the center will also award several stipends to faculty outside of the College of Business who include entrepreneurial themes in their classes, as well as promote the Center’s programming and Entrepreneurship Certificate program. With the opening of the CoLab facility, which will include space dedicated to innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship on the third floor of Alden Library, the Center hopes to expand its presence on campus and better position itself as a resource available to the entire campus community.

“One of the biggest challenges with the Center for Entrepreneurship is that people associate it only with the College of Business,” said Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Paul Mass.  “While the College of Business and Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs created the Center, the Center is available as a resource to all students on campus, no matter their degree program. These faculty stipends will help with the branding of the program.”

Increased Professional and Mentor Network Opportunities 

Students involved with the Center for Entrepreneurship will now have access to industry expertise and mentorship through a professional network database. The network will include professional businesses that can offer startup development support, in addition to alumni entrepreneurs who will lend their expertise and time to help students bring their ideas to fruition. Thus far, Mass has collected a list of nearly 90 professionals who are willing to become active in the network.

“The next step for us is to connect students with mentors who have similar ideas and backgrounds,” said Mass. “Unlike big city schools that have convenient access to hundreds of entrepreneurs and professionals, we don’t here in Athens. It becomes more difficult to build relationships, so we are going to have teleconferencing and other capabilities in the CoLab facility so that students can meet with their mentors virtually.

Mass and Associate Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship Paul Benedict, will be responsible for the continued development and management of the three initiatives. The resources will be implemented throughout the 2018-2019 school year and will be coordinated with and after the grand opening of CoLab.

Learn more about the Ohio University Center for Entrepreneurship.