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Southern Illinois University Student Priorities - Spring 2016

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Project Pitch




Southern Illinois University (SIU) excels in housing the resources for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

In fact, SIU has been supporting the region’s entrepreneurs in job creation, enterprise development and expansion, and strengthening the rural southern Illinois economy since 1985 with the establishment of the Small Business Development Center. Various courses allow our student body to discover the significance of an entrepreneurship culture, workshops such as Marketing U assist in developing professionalism, competitions such as the Elevator Pitch Competition have been devoted to engage students in  innovative activities, and the Research Park is the primary innovation and technology space in the southern third of Illinois. 

Yet, many courses are offered only to STEM or business majors disqualifying curious students who desire to explore the topic but don't wish to extend their currciulum and the Research Park is located on the outskirts of campus. Many of these resoures are segregated making it relatively difficult for students to involve themselves in related activites and hinders marketing attempts. The following are our student priorities:

Strategic Priorities

Option #1 - 3 Day Startup Competition


Open to all students, the 3 Day Startup Competition will dive into design thinking, prototyping, and marketing workshops all in one event's setting with the ultimate goal of finding a solution for potential food deserts located in Southern Illinois. The USDA defines a food desert as, "parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers." More information can be found here. This event allows students, of all backgrounds, to collaborate and create sustainable change wth experienced faculty, staff, and local entrepreneurs. 

Tactical Implementation

  1. Surveying: Primary data will be retreived from the student body through a mass email campaign. (1 month)
  2. 2 Focus groups: Utilized to grasp any suggestions and inquires. (1 month)
  3. Social Media: Various accounts, especially Facebook and Twitter, will be created to proactively engage with students and provide related information. (ongoing after the survey results)
  4. Informationals: Held for further information on the event and to speak with potential workshop facilitators (1 month after social media setup)

Option #2 Communication Station


Our aim is to revolutionize the way students at Southern Illinois University students communicate innovation and entrepreneurship across our campus. The students are SIU have great ideas. These ideas, if used correctly, in many cases can improve the lives of many people. The unfortunate reality is that many of these ideas never gain traction, because it takes multiple minds to turn an idea into a product. We want to foster a productive communicative environment for students in the engineering department to communicate with students in the marketing department. History tells us that when these connections are made great things happen. The Communication Station aims to ensure that no ideas are left in the station, no students are limited by an inability to communicate their ideas, and no great innovation is left unexplored by the greatest entrepreneurial minds regardless of discipline of study. 

Detailed Description 

There are few places in life when you will be working solely with others in your discipline. Higher education, as a whole, hasn't seemed to pick up on this concept. The Communication Station wants to reflect this reality, by giving students to opportunity to explain sometimes very complex ideas in easy to understand ways. 

Tactical Implementation

1. Find A Space

2. Host Workshops/ TedX talks/ Mock Events

3. Host idea fairs


Option #3


Our aim is to change the way students are currently thinking about social innovation and entrepreneurship at Southern Illinois University.  We want to expose students to social innovation and give them the tools they need to make a difference, not only on campus, but all over the world. Our ultimate goal is to inspire a generation of change makers, humanitarians, and environmentalist to make our communties a better place 

Tactical Implementation

1.      Find out what students are already achieving

2.      Launch social media campaigns (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

3.      Host events/workshops


Option #4 - Sustainability Start-Up


Our aim is to create a 3D-printer that can 3D-print biological waste which can be colonized by mycelium, creating 100% biodegradable 3D-printed materials with material properties of those such as leather, wood, cork, and styrofoam. By doing this, we are creating further material capabilities for consumers in this industry whilst preserving the ecosystem by creating green alternatives. We will create biodegradable alternatives to 3D printing methods currently on the market, but with many of the same capabilites. This is a practical example of how individuals from varied backgrounds of academic study can come together as a team and utilize I&E processes to create positive and profitable solutions to the biggest problems of the world. Instead of creating events to promote I&E for the sake of I&E, we will be leading by example, providing a framework for others to follow when embarking upon their own I&E endeavors. Basically, we'll show them how it's done.

Detailed Description (Let's explain a little bit.)

Mycelium (AKA "Fungus") is the collection of cells that compose root structure of mushrooms. Mycelium takes dead, composted plant matter and recycles it into a form that can be reused again by living plants. It is nature's own system of recycling, and is essential to Earth's ecological balance. Replicating the same functions of these natural processes into the economic system can benefit us all. Long story short, the end goal is to develop a business where we make profit off of waste, by turning that waste into valuable material or goods that people want and/or need. This profit will allow the company to expand, consuming more and more waste throughout the economy. Here's the deal. Waste is cheap. Mycelium can effectively colonize many petroleum-based plastics, petroleum itself, cardboard, wood and sawdust etc. Once fully colonized, it can be dried to create a strong and durable material. Based on the combinations of various growth parameters, species, and substrates, many different material qualities are possible. This can effectively replaceother, more harmful materials that are currently being discarded at an unprecedented rate. We know it is possible. It just needs to be done, and it needs to be done well. This plan isn't just a business. It is a system. A new paradigm. It is a self-expanding addition to our current economy that will grow from the waste of other corporations, cleansing the world.

Tactical Implementation

  • Note* Much of the research on many of the subjects below has already been developed. We hope to simply expand on this research in each area, to refine it so that it more appropriatefly fits with our goal.
  1. Funding: In order to initiate any phase of this endeavor, funding must be received to pay for the equipment and materials needed for the research. We have already recieved and a fund of $850.00 from the Windgate Charitable Foundation to begin our intial "Phase 1 (Proof of Science)" research. Other sources are currently being sought out for
    "Phase 2 (Proof of Concept)", such as the SIUC Green fund. The REACH Award is also being considered, and the Venturewell E-Team Grant has been applied for. If granted, this Venturewell grant will give us the funding we need to get this research off the ground, and begin developing a potential product.
  2. Recruiting the Research Teams : The main team will consist of sub-teams, each focusing on their particular specialties of research. The individuals in these teams will be based on the department in which they reside. Bio-Team (Microbiology & Biochemistry), E-Team (Electrical & Mechanical Engineering), ID-Team (Industrial Design), and M-Team (Business & Marketing).
  3. Research (Mycology) [B-Team] : This research will focus on which species and and substrates to use, and how to most effectively and efficiently create a growable product that conforms to the material property specifications. Also, to experiment with alternate combinations to develope various material quality options for use later. 
  4. Research (Engineering) [E-Team] : This research will focus on creating create a controllable, mechanized 5-axis 3D printer that can extrude colonized compost slurries or agar at the temperatures required to preserve spore and mycelial production while maintaining sterile field. 
  5. Marketing and Publicity [M-Team] : The M-Team will be shadowing our research, recording our progress with a journalistic standpoint. The goal of the M-Team during this phase will be to create a story (through newpapers, social media, etc.) that will get people interested in what we are doing, with updates every other month on our progress. The more exposure our project has, the more help we will get, and the more influence our results will have by the end of the project. We want to create a story that people will be interested in and perhaps even want to help out with. 
  6. System Testing and Prototyping [All Teams] : Once a process for printing and growing our material is developed by the teams, it will be time to create and expose our tangible research results. This will help get our project even more traction. After this, we will begin refining our processes and finding more ways to make them marketable.
  7. Tech Transfer : Once this functioning system of is formulated, we will utilize the Technology Transfer Department to gain rights to the discovery. This gives us time to further formulate our business plan and implement actions that will further the development of our endeavor.
  8. Market Segmentation, Customer Profiling, Lean Startup, Business Development [ID Team, M-Team] : Throughout the research process, it is the job of these two teams to continue to develop the business from the inside. In essence, refining and expanding the entirety of our Business Landscape Canvas, which is too extensive to go into now.
  9. Funding : Once we know our mission from the inside out and have the technical and engineering capabilities to do so, we will need an additional source of funding. Kickstarter, additional grants, venture capitalists, etc.
  10. Start-Up

Related Links


Asia Lee
Trevor Jones
DJ Jeffries
Mara Decker 


Campus Overview
Landscape Canvas 2016
Presentation 2016