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How to leverage strategic partnerships to produce a UIF regional meetup

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When it comes to producing a UIF regional meet-up, connections and partnerships are the beginning, middle, and end. Before you can host a regional meetup, you'll need to spend a significant amount of time planning the event. Included in this planning is determining which partnerships will ultimately help in ensuring that your meetup runs smoothly. In this wiki, you'll be introduced to some of the ways you can leverage strategic partnerships to produce a University Innovation Fellows regional meet-up. If done effectively, these partnerships should be involved in every stage of the process from finding a venue and lodging to providing meals and entertainment.

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The Importance of Partnerships

Connections and Partnerships come from all directions. While other fellows will certainly be a great resource, your search for strategic partnership should not just be limited there. You’ll want to involve other students, organizations, and/or businesses with similar goals willing to help out. There will be plenty to do and there’s no way you’ll be able to do it alone. Some partnerships to consider are the administration and faculty at your institution, especially those who have demonstrated a passion and dedication for innovation. The connections you make with faculty and administration will not always lead to what you’re looking for, but many times they know things or people who can help you reach your goal of a successful meetup.

Where to find Partnerships

Student Organizations provide a great example of a mutually advantageous partnership. By helping UIF fellows host a regional meetup, they are also getting the word out about their own clubs and initiatives. Not only is it a beneficial spotlight on them to other students, but also to administration at their own school. It shows that both student organizations and University Innovation Fellows are able to collaborate together and ultimately work towards one common goal; enlightening and enhancing their own campus when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship. In a story from a previous regional meetup held at James Madison University, a fellow entrepreneurship-based student organization footed the bill for near everything but lodging, a couple meals, and a few entertainment events.


Another important part of leveraging your partnerships is marketing. If no one knows what you’re trying to do, no one will be willing to help you. Get the word out. If you don’t know how to do it, form a partnership with someone who does. This partnership can be as small as someone on the school newspaper willing to write an article about what you are wanting to do, or as large as the Provost of your institution, who might willing to raise funds in order to make your meetup plans a reality.


Taking a Business Point of View

It’s especially important to consider the planning of the regional meetup as a business decision. When trying to find the optimal event to showcase the intellectual and programmatic goals of the University Innovation Fellows program, it is essential to speak to leaders in the UIF community that have successfully planned meetups. It is ill-advised to speak to UIF’s attending the event, since this might largely ruin the surprise and wow-factor of the event.


The meetup should be planned down to the last detail, and it should be noted that the planning stage will take a considerable amount of time. There are ever changing variables that play into this event, ranging from number of  attendees, cost of lodging, meals, maps and entertainment, to unpredictable issues like bad weather and technical problems. The key to managing these risks is time, flexibility and of course, a positive attitude. In a noted blurb form an interview with a past regional meet-up organizer, Chris Ashley, he mentioned that it’s the little things that can add a big wow factor. He personally attended a meetup where upon arrival he was handed a hand-cut wooden name tag. He described not only how welcome he felt, but how that little piece of wood would forever transport him back to that weekend, and all the knowledge and good memories he took away from it.


Picking out a theme is an especially important part of any meetup. Not only should it play hand in hand with increasing entrepreneurship and innovation on college campuses, but it should be engaging for all the guests. Creativity is an absolute must for this ingrediant of the regional-meetup. Some noteworthy themes from past meetups are "Own It. Do It." Where students were encouraged to just start being creative and making whatever they dreampt up. Another interesting one asked students to create something innovative, yet wearable. It combined tech with peoples everyday lives.


Pushing Through Resistance

Pushing through resistance is hopefully a topic that you need not pay too much attention to. But, for safety's sake, we’ll cover a common type of resistance and how to handle it. Most of us are aware that Universities tend to push their projects and initiatives through at a glacial pace; they have to jump through regulatory hoops and gain approval from oftentimes uninvolved bodies. However, student organizations are a separate entity and not entirely bound to the methods of administration. In fact, the point of student organizations and UIF themselves is to identify needs and areas seeking improvement and act on them.

Partnerships are Dual Sided; Make Sure to Give Back

Strategic Partnerships are invaluably important when it comes to hosting something as large scale as a regional meetup. However, it’s just as important to show your appreciation and reciprocation to the people that have aided you in the process; for that is the only way relationships are maintained and progress is made. Holding a regional meetup is a grand accomplishment for University Innovation Fellows, alongside working and collaborating with student organizations, and aiding and communicating with administration.