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Northwestern University Student Priorities

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Project Pitch Video


With the recent opening of the Garage and the increase in visibility and amount of resources for entrepreneurship on campus, now is the ideal time to optimize the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the future and make the improvements necessary to make it the best it can be.

Part I: Breaking Down Silos and Improving Student Access to Resources 

The Northwestern Entrepreneurship Ecosystem already has a plethora of resources for students interested in entrepreneurship, innovation, design, and related fields. However, these resources are siloed by schools and departments making it difficult for students to find them and take advantage. The following initiatives are designed to improve student access to resources on campus.

A. Improving the Understanding of Campus Entrepreneurial Efforts

Proposed Solutions:

  • Creation of a monthly entrepreneurship at Northwestern stakeholders meeting that will serve to update the various stakeholders on the efforts of other stakeholders and foster collaboration
  • Creation of a task force that will work to find ways to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing across the schools and departments and decrease the amount of duplicate efforts.
  • Students should have a clear representative voice in discussions around ecosystem needs, most likely through a one to two student representatives at the proposed stakeholder meetings and on the proposed task force.

B. Creating Student Entry Points

Proposed Solutions:

  • Developing a new graphic that can be used to show the ecosystem and that students understand
  • Making the Garage website the entry point to entrepreneurship at NU by improving the resources listed, listing other departments and organizations for entrepreneurship and innovation on campus and clearly explaining their role, and events on campus.
  • Updating the Farley Center website with current resources at NU and listing all the entrepreneurship classes offered at Northwestern that will count towards the certificate.

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Part II: The Garage as a Hub for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

The Garage’s opening marks a major milestone in the development of the Northwestern Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and has the potential to serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation on campus. It is critical that it’s role be clearly defined in a way consistent with the ecosystem’s needs. While this may seem like common sense, it is critical that the Garage serve as a hub in the sense that it connects the varying efforts on campus and allows for intersections between ideas and backgrounds, rather than pushing a uniform entrepreneurial vision.

A. Development of a Diverse Community

Proposed Solutions:

  • Upon completion of the current resident survey, analysis of the results to identify gaps in terms of academic background, year, graduate and undergrad, and other aspects that impact the overall diversity.
  • Targeted outreach to those schools that are underrepresented in the current residency in order to get more students with these backgrounds involved.

B. Creation of Resources that Fill Voids

Proposed Solutions:

  • Student survey to identify the missing pieces and what their needs are.
  • Legal office hours that are focused on assisting in the IP and incorporation processes, specifically by reviewing and offering advice on legal documents.
  • Creation of a scholarship fund to assist students who cannot pursue entrepreneurship because they cannot forgo a part time job for financial reasons.
  • Creation and promotion of an entrepreneurship specific alumni network, as well as more opportunities for students to engage with alumni in entrepreneurship and related fields.

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Part III: Expansion of the Northwestern Entrepreneurship Community

With the recent development of and focus on entrepreneurial resources particularly for those who are building startups in software, green tech, or medical devices, it is now time to shift the focus towards the earlier stages of the funnel in order to attract a larger audience, especially given that a majority of Northwestern students have the mentality necessary for an interest in entrepreneurship and innovation.

A. Change in Marketing Language

Proposed Solutions:

  • Differentiated branding – that emphasizes making an impact and problem solving – for some events and programs on campus.
  • Promotion of events and programs using targeted messages, i.e. highlighting journalism and storytelling for Medill and social impact for SESP.

B. Expansion of Entrepreneurial Programming

Proposed Solutions:

  • More hands on, one off workshops on topics such as design thinking, intrapreneurship, and other less-startup focused topics.
  • Creation of more non-engineering design classes that focus on applying design to other contexts, such as journalism, organizations, and social impact.
  • Offering more classes that cover the basics of entrepreneurship through case studies and other methods rather than student startups.

Part IV: Making Entrepreneurship and Northwestern Culture Compatible 

 While entrepreneurship requires large amounts of dedication, time, and effort and should not be easy, there are steps that can be taken to make it easier to be pursued without jeopardizing one’s academic career and promoting a healthy less stressful lifestyle. 

A. Increasing Academic Entrepreneurhsip Opportunities

Proposed Solutions:

  • Increased marketing and offering of the Farley independent study program.
  • Increase the Number of Design Courses Offered Outside of McCormick
  • Development of a Design and Innovation Requirement 

B. Meshing Entrepreeurhsip and Northwestern Culture

Proposed Solutions:

  • Increase the Number of “Entrepreneurial Intersections”
  • Place an Emphasis on the Benefits of Entrepreneurship in All Contexts
  • Seek Out Additional Ways to Help Student Carry Their Entrepreneurial Experiences Over to The Classroom

Related Links

Northwestern University

Garret Goehring