Western State Colorado University
Students are always a main focus, regardless of the project. New ideas, innovation, and passion are coming from students. We as Innovation fellows want to help create ways for all of these attributes to be spotlighted. We have discovered that student have great ideas, and incredible ingenuity here at Western, but they need to be brought into the light, and need resources to “do”. Talking with countless students, and observation has brought us to the conclusion that students here at western are different than students at big public schools. Western students have a passion for whatever they are involved in, whether that be in, or out of the classroom. This passion that western students have towards everyday life propels innovation, and ingenuity naturally. We here as western students, and as fellows want to capture this natural intuitive, and entrepreneurial lifestyle, and expose it.
Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship is an important factor in exposing more students to this way of thinking. Faculty has a direct way to reach out to students and can really enhance their innovative potential. Students will gain the means to explore their innovative and entrepreneurial potential through seeing faculty first hand. Faculty also has the power and the voice to bring new and innovative programs to the school that will enhance student creativity. At Western, there are only a handful of faculty who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. It would be beneficial to the school if more faculty were involved in creative thinking because it would not only enhance the university’s ecosystem, but it would also get more students involved and evolve their way of thinking. We believe that creating a makerspace at our school will encourage faculty and students to explore their creative side and overall make our school more innovative. Faculty would be very supported to be entrepreneurial because students would gain more knowledge and insights about entrepreneurship. Students would have always have someone to talk to about new innovative ideas and get feedback from local sources. Overall, encouraging faculty to be more involved with innovation and entrepreneurship would be very beneficial to the students and to the school ecosystem.
In researching the Innovative network on our campus we determined that western currently doesn’t have much for resources in the spinout section of the landscape canvas. With this said there is plenty of opportunity to grow. Currently at Western there are a few efforts that are in progress that will provide for people who are in the spinout phase of the innovation and entrepreneurial journey on campus and in the community. The first project that western is working on is called the ICE House. The Ice house will be a place in which students and community members can come together and network. It will consist of a large coworking aspect, office space for growing entrepreneurs, events, and classes, as well as a coffee shop to meet on a more casual level. Working as a partner with the ICE House the ICE Project is working on bridging the “town gown divide” at the student level. They are doing this by creating an innovative network on campus of students that are also rooted in the community. It is all about making connections with mentors, sourcing funding, and creating a large community of Innovators, Creatives, and Entrepreneurs. The ICE Project is student led and offers students opportunities and resources around the innovative and entrepreneurial culture. The ICE Project is working on building the network that will help future entrepreneurs in the spin out phase and give them the tools that they need to keep growing their business or innovation. Funding on Western’s campus and in the community is pretty minimal and hard to come by but there are a few efforts by individuals in the community to aid in funding startups as well as growing successful businesses. With that said there is plenty of room for improvement and The University Innovation Fellows at Western plan to tackle this as part of the Western ICE Project, providing resources for innovators and entrepreneurs to come.
Mapping out our school ecosystem, we discovered much about our economic development efforts. We found we are not engaged with regional and local economic development efforts as much as we would like to be. Working on Western’s landscape canvas we discovered that the spin-out section reveals how our school is very limited in this area. Being able to engage with industrial parks, new technology, and makerspaces would greatly benefit Western State Colorado University. Many campuses have an economic development office and if we added this to Western it would be a great resource to use in order to have a positive economic benefit. Another great benefit is adding regional sources of capital such as state and institutional funds. Adding these additional funds will increase the economic development throughout our school. Mentoring and business networks will also increase our efforts and will provide the means of connection with different people, different businesses, and different campuses. Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts will overall benefit Western in ways we haven’t seen before.