School:Boise State University

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Boise-State-Campus.jpgPhoto credit: John Kelly of Boise State Photographic

Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and consistently ranks in Forbes' top 10 cities for careers and families. Boise State University serves about 21,000 undergraduates and 3,000 graduate students. Engineering enrollment has grown by 75% to 2,847 students over the past five years. Key partners include Micron Technology, a top 5 semiconductor company headquartered in Boise, NASA, and Idaho National Laboratories. Recently, Boise became home to the business incubator Trailhead, as well as annual speaking events including TedX, Ignite Boise, and the Ethos Project. New initiatives at Boise State University include the Venture College, which has launched 17 revenue-generating businesses, the College of Innovation and Design, a MakerLab, and the New Product Development Lab, as well as a $25M Center for Materials Research.

Student Entrepreneurship

Boise State University and the Boise community generate awareness and help others discover the value of student innovation and entrepreneurship with a variety of experiential courses and workshops, programs, inspiration events, and communication initiatives. One example is the Work U program, coordinated by the Boise State Career Center, which targets students whose major may not have have a specific career track and pairs them with an entrepreneur or project within the Boise community. The Digital Marketing course from the College of Innovation + Design’s Bridge to Career Program gives students practical, workplace skills and culminates in a final project that can be reflected in the workplace. TedxBoise is an annual event that brings people together to share ideas worth spreading and with a mission to explore, expose, and expand. Major marketing initiatives, from the College of Innovation + Design’s annual report to the Focus on Boise State magazine, all help to communicate the positive and valuable experience of students involved in innovative and entrepreneurial efforts at Boise State and beyond. 

Faculty Entrepreneurship

Examples of faculty-led innovation can be seen across the Boise State Campus. A prime example of this is the Vertically Integrated Projects program, or VIP, which gives faculty avenues for conducting their research, while also pairing them with interested students to help conduct the research and gain valuable skills. The Human-Environment Systems, or HES program does a similar job to the VIP program but is focused solely on biology centered topics. The Instructional Design and Educational Assessment, IDEA shop for short is part of the Center for Teaching and Learning. The IDEA shop focuses on helping faculty integrate technology into their teaching, learning, and assessment. Another resource on campus that helps both faculty and students access technologies and develop ideas is the Makerlab. The Boise State Makerlab is a radically inclusive community which focuses on democratizing access to emerging technologies, and training students and faculty how to use the technology at zero cost, along with zero cost to use any of the equipment.

Some examples of faculty entrepreneurship and research are:

  • Dr. Peter Mullner specializes in shape-memory alloys. He recently launched a startup to commercialize solid-state electronic devices based on these materials.
  • Dr. Yanliang Zhang completed successful prototypes of a thermoelectric device designed to replace alternators in cars. This work, funded by a Department of Energy grant, should improve fuel economy by 10-15%. Hyundai (or Honda?) is currently working to commercialize this device.
  • Dr. Kevin Learned co-founded Idaho's first commercial software company and its first angel investment group.
  • Ed Zimmer served as the CEO of ECCO Group as it grew from 20 employees to over 500 employees with plants in Boise, England, and Australia.

University-Industry Collaboration

Boise State university offers many opportunities to connect students to industry connections. Venture College serves as a resource to connect university students to industry leaders. They have designed an internship program to connect students to small businesses in need of help in a variety of skill sets. Internships are tailored to meet the skill interests of students. 

The Career Center at Boise State houses the Work U Program, which connects undergrad students to select businesses in Boise. For example, St. Lukes, City of Boise, Albertsons, etc. This program allows student to receive credit while developing Boise connections and gaining work experience.

The Strategic Growth Partnership is a program within Boise State’s business school. The program is lead by John Williamson, a local executive, and it's mission is to accelerate Boise State Entrepreneurs. It offers connections to multiple business such as Blast Resolve, GenZ Technology, Melt Organic, Recovery Help, TeaDora,Uniscen, VersaBuilt.

Boise Young Professionals is a local group coordinated to establish relationships between recent graduates and engage them in the professional part of the Boise community. The goal is to connect and develop meaning and beneficial relationships that can lead to job connections and resources within Boise and beyond. 

Below are a few other examples of Boise State faculty and student connections to local and national communities: 

  • The Scalable Nanomanufacturing Grant, led by Dr. Will Hughes, partners Boise State University with Harvard University and Micron Technologies. This project investigates applications for DNA nanotechnology in the semiconductor industry.
  • A year-long Senior Design course partners senior engineering students with an industry sponsor to gain practical industry experience. Partners include: Micron Technology, Clearwater Analytics, Hewlett Packard, Cradlepoint Technology, and Idaho Power, among others.
  • The Boise State Computer Science Department has moved into a new building downtown, which they will share with local tech company Clearwater Analytics, among others.  This move positions Boise State Computer Science students and faculty within close proximity to the growing number of tech startups located in downtown Boise.

University Technology Transfer Office

Boise State and the greater Boise area has a number of resources which can help with technology transfer, accessing startup resources such as space and mentorship, venture capital firms, and angel investors. The Office of Technology Transfer at Boise State supports research activities, and manages industry relations, as well as the commercialization of intellectual property. The Venture College is a resource provided by the College of Innovation and Design which offers student led startups space to run their business from, as well as access to an extensive mentor network and help with finding funding, as well as providing help and information with copyright and other intellectual property. A similar program offered by the College of Business and Economics is the Strategic Growth Capital Partnership. The University of Idaho also offers a free service to help students patent their ideas and inventions for free, offering legal advice and help with researching similar and existing patents. Boise State also offers graduate classes in grant writing. Boise Angel Alliance and Loon Creek Capital are both resources to connect startups with angel investors, simplifying the process of getting seed funding.

Local and Regional Development

Boise’s innovation ecosystem is rapidly expanding. JUMP is a new building in Boise meant to facilitate connections and networking in Boise. is an Urban Meeting Space funded by the J.R. Simplot foundation. This building operates as a nonprofit meeting space meant to facilitate curiosity, creativity, and playfulness for people of all ages. JUMP is a recourse for connection building within the Boise community. 

Trailhead is a Boise based space for entrepreneurs that offers space to work and a connection to resources. This resource is not free, but Boise State has connection to Trailhead Board of Directors and they can help Boise State Student get connected to resources and mentors in the area.

Boise Angel Alliance’s mission is to advance opportunity, empowerment, and innovation through strategic investment. Entrepreneurs pitch business ideas for a chance to earn investments and funding for their ventures.

Boise Network of Executive Women focuses on empowering young professionals, typically in the hopes of generating healthy working ecosystems for women.

Below are facts about Boise State University’s Economic Impact

  • Employment: BSU employs more than 3,000 Idaho residents directly and another 2,000 indirectly. Wages and salary in total are $113M
  • Spending: students spend $195M annually on living expenses in Idaho
  • Out-of-state students spend another $17M annually
  • BSU purchasing, construction, and employee spending is ~$325M annually
  • Service: 2,000 students across 30 departments contribute ~52,000 hours to 80 community organizations through the service-learning program
  • Alumni: 70% of Boise State alumni remain in Idaho, working and paying taxes
  • Idaho residents with at least a bachelor's degree earn double the wages of those without one. Alumni have an unemployment rate that is about 1/3 of that of the workforce with only a high school diploma Alumni have an estimated $903M economic impact on the state annually
  • Apparel: apparel generates ~$11M in sales for retailers
  • Research: Boise State attracts more than $37M in research awards, 80% of which are from federal sources

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Additional Information

Landscape Canvas

Student Priorities

Previous Cohorts

Spring 2016

Ann Delaney

Kelly Schutt

Rebecka Seward

Fall 2016

Donovan Kay

Sienna George

Alexander Schloss

Spring 2017

Carson Addison 

Zachary Andreason

Camille Eddy

Thomas Lippman

Hayden Rogers 

Fall 2018

Evanann Whitaker

Pam Craig

Ollie Shannon

Chris Dagher