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Pittaway’s Café Conversation in CoLab Encourages Students to Engage in Entrepreneurship

Thursday, March 5 2020 07:55pm

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By Bri Schoepf

Luke Pittaway Ph.D., O’Bleness Professor of Entrepreneurship, visited Ohio University’s CoLab on Wednesday, February 26 to discuss the importance of implementing entrepreneurship education and infrastructure into universities.

An engaged audience of faculty, community guests, and students of different class levels and majors, gathered to learn about and discuss aspects of entrepreneurship, specifically relating to college students.

Most recently, entrepreneurship education has been focused on ways to enable students on campus to engage in venture creation. In order to efficiently accomplish this, Pittaway explained that achieving imbedded entrepreneurship is necessary because it concentrates on integrating entrepreneurship education into a variety of disciplines, ultimately appealing to a wider range of students.

“As this effort has occurred, to spread entrepreneurship across an entire university campus, what you start to see is that actually we need physical spaces for students,” Pittaway explained. “If you’re over there in engineering and you’re doing something entrepreneurial, you’ll want to meet the business students and the business students really need to meet the creative students, so somehow we have to get this multiple-discipline thing going and we have to get it into some sort of focal point on campus.”

According to Pittaway, without the proper physical spaces to encourage and practice innovation, entrepreneurship education cannot be executed properly. He noted there needs to be a combination of both education and a physical space in order to achieve success. While some universities have spaces that are built specific to certain disciplines, all Ohio University students are fortunate enough to have access to the same space in Alden Library: CoLab.

Throughout most of the conversation, Pittaway walked the audience through the steps the university had to take in order to build CoLab. Since they knew they wanted to build a physical space on campus for entrepreneurship, but did not know what to build, they first conducted action research. They then visited 57 different universities, analyzed their spaces, and did a market analysis. After discussing what they wanted the space to include, they finally designed and constructed it.

“One of the things that was really frustrating me when we started this work was that if you’re going to design a space for innovation and entrepreneurship, what makes a space help people be innovative?” Pittaway questioned.

Pittaway then went on to explain the factors that encourage innovation, which range from the design and setup of an entrepreneurship space to the transformation of ideas into physical properties to having the presence of natural light and materials. The efficient setup, design, flow, and accessibility of these spaces is very important in encouraging innovation, growth, and creativity among students.

“This conversation helped me understand the importance of the environment you are working in and how good environments can encourage innovation. Professor Pittaway made it very clear that the energy around you can impact your productivity,” said Devyn Savitsky, a Ph.D. student in counselor education and supervision.

Pittaway’s CoLab talk about incorporating entrepreneurship on college campuses (officially titled “Spaces for Entrepreneurship Education: A New Arms Race? ”) can be viewed on YouTube.