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GVSU Student Priorities

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The GVSU Innovation Fellows realize that there are many great resources for entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids, GVSU downtown campus, and exclusive clubs and groups. Additionally, there are many opportunities to pitch business plans and look for funding. That being said, there are limited opportunities at Grand Valley to be introduced to design thinking outside of the classroom. There aren’t safe spaces to play around with new ideas, collaborate without pressure, or connect with people in different areas of study. The GVSU Honors College is bursting with potential. We hope to introduce better methods to inspire young, innovative Grand Valley students, across disciplines, to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, and make innovation a key aspect of campus culture through the creation of clubs or workshops that will nurture these values. Afterwards, we want to develop a communication pipeline so that good ideas can be nurtured, grown, and developed through collaboration.

Opportunity Focus

  • Few opportunities for students to experience the design process outside of coursework.
  • The I&E resources in the Business College are not readily available to students of all departments.
  • Create a more inclusive environment where students can collaborate and share ideas.
  • Lack of events, idea pitches, or competitions that encourage students to pursue individual exploration and experimentation with the design thinking process.
  • Lack of campus support around increasing awareness and familiarity with innovation and design thinking.

Strategy One: SPI Club [3-4 weeks]

In order to promote a collaborative environment where students can learn about entrepreneurship and innovation, we will pursue the idea of launching a "Social Product Innovation" club. This club will allow students to collaborate with one another in order to tackle issues within the local communities. Our hope is that students will learn valuable skills such as networking, prototyping, and business pitching throughout the duration of this club's existence. We feel it has the potential to reach students throughout Grand Valley, and change their ideas on what entrepreneurship and innovation really means.

Strategy Two: Innovation Showcase [3-4 months]

The Innovation Showcase is a program that would bring together students, faculty, campus organizations, and small businesses.

The Innovation Showcase would feature innovative projects and designs at popular places around campus, such as the cafeterias, bookstore, and dorm buildings. This would encourage onlookers to participate in design thinking and innovation clubs and events, as well as give innovators a chance to show off their projects.

Innovation Showcase Video:

Strategy Three: Start-Up Funding [6 months]

While GVSU and Grand Rapids have many different programs which allow students to pursue entrepreneurship and innovation, there are not many opportunities for funding. Our goal is to find more funding programs which will give money to these different projects. In order to do this, we will reach out to different companies in the Grand Rapids area and find resources on GVSU's campus. We feel this is important because, in order to put on various events like Design Start, we would need funding.

Strategy Four: Prototyping a Product [8 months]

A main goal of the Grand Valley State University Social Product Innovation Club is to create a solid product prototype. In order to create a prototype, we need to pick a problem to focus on and go through the Design Thinking process. First, we will go through the empathize stage by going to companies, or hospitals to gather information. We will then define our problem and layout possible obstacles we could encounter. Next, we will get a group of people together to ideate and brainstorm possible solutions. Once we have completed all of these steps, we will then be in the prototyping phase. During this time, we will create a low-resolution mock-up of our potential product in order to test it. We hope to create a product that will benefit the communities around us.

Strategy Five: Reach out to Start Garden [12 months]

Start Garden is a company based in Grand Rapids. They believe in learning by doing. They continually try new things, learn from them, and then adapt to fit. The goal of Start Garden is to establish a culture of entrepreneurship and invest whatever they can into that culture.

Start Garden mostly focuses on helping start-up companies get on their feet and get ready to take off. Our goal is to reach out to this company and get in touch with different businessmen and businesswomen. These people could potentially act as mentors and help the SPI club take important strides towards creating a successful product.

Completed Projects


On February 24, 2017, GVSU hosted their first TEDx event themed “The Blueprints between X and Why.” A limited amount of tickets were available for purchase, with the event also being live-streamed in the library. The second TEDxGVSU event is scheduled for March 16, 2018 with the title “Shape.”

Related Links


Innovation Showcase video:

2019 Fellows:

Abby Cooper

Amanda Moy

Drew Craven

Meredith Hinz

2018 Fellows:





2017 Fellows:

Allison Rogutich

Ben Parsell

Joe VanderBroek

Nikhil Watsa


2014 Fellows:

Kathryn Christopher

Leah Bauer