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Innovation Strategy planning grant awarded to entrepreneurship student project

Thursday, January 28 2016 12:00am

Universities across the country are creating spaces for student innovation and entrepreneurial collaboration—including Ohio University, if student entrepreneurs have anything to say about it

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By Brianna Wilson

It started as an idea.

“Ohio University Entrepreneurs had been trying to further develop our student organization, and one member, Reggie Morrow, suggested we develop a physical space on campus for entrepreneurial innovation,” said Lori Bentz, student entrepreneur and University Innovation Fellow.  

And then the idea snowballed.

The original team also included student entrepreneurs Alex Kneier and Peter Shoup, and rather than simply develop a space for Ohio University Entrepreneurs, together they set their sights on a higher goal: creating a university wide entrepreneurship ecosystem.

“The students wanted to create a ‘hub and spoke’ model that combined existing spaces for innovation with a new, university wide space,” explained Pittaway.

Kneier stayed on campus throughout the summer to conduct research for the project, as part of the Bobcat Launchpad entrepreneurship course.

“The course emphasizes open innovation and gaining as much feedback as possible, as early on in ideation as possible,” explained Kneier, “so we conducted as many informational interviews as possible, primarily with administrators and faculty across the University, to see what people thought of the idea.”

Interviewees were open to the idea of a centralized entrepreneurial space, and eager to collaborate on a forward-thinking project. The list of collaborators and consultants grew to include Jennifer Simon, Innovation Center; Michelle Ferrier, Scripps College of Communication; Jeffrey Giesey, Russ College of Engineering and Technology; Nathaniel Berger, College of Fine Arts, and Lynn Gellermann, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. The student team also expanded to include Colin Espinosa, Benjamin Scott, and Faith Voinovich. 

Shortly thereafter, the team wrote a grant proposal. In January 2016, they were one of five teams awarded a planning grant to further explore the idea. The grant allows them to explore successful case studies, conduct surveys and focus groups to gauge student interest, research costs, develop architectural renderings, and ultimately develop a business plan to make their idea a reality.

“We really appreciate the support of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and of the Innovation Strategy Planning Grant,” said Bentz. “We’re excited to see what comes next.”