School:Creighton University

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Located in the heart of Omaha, a midwestern city growing at a breakneck pace, Creighton University fosters the growth of some of the brightest minds in a multitude of industries.

A cornerstone in the region dubbed “the silicon prairie”, Omaha is home to several companies toeing the front lines of innovation and entrepreneurship. Aside from coursework, Creighton partners with the Startup Collaborative, has a 3-day startup chapter and a makerspace, as well as an entrepreneurship CASE club.

These opportunities are all phenomenal on and off-campus resources. However, we have noticed a large portion of the student population actively looking to engage in I&E further – students that with the right guidance and resources, could spearhead the next big innovative idea on a major scale. How can these students grow beyond a garage startup dream? There is a significant need for a smoother flow of information and ideas, especially between the various schools and departments within the University. Such a development could, over time, put Creighton on the global map for a center of I&E and design thinking.

Through speaking in-depth with faculty, students, and outside parties, we have discovered that though Creighton’s highly applicable coursework carries significant weight, a growing number of Employers are taking a keen interest in graduates with creative entrepreneurship experience. Having this experience is seen as a marker for an employee who will provide greater contribution as well as adept collaboration skills.

Our discussions also showed that students don’t see a clear way to get involved with entrepreneurial innovation or design thinking, regardless of their major.

However, it is a massive challenge to create positive and lasting change in such a complex, established, and influential university. There is not going to be a simple or obvious solution. We are going to have to dedicate some hard work if we truly want to see this change, and we do- so let’s do it in the right way.

Instead of searching for a top-down solution, our vision is to create a movement of students and faculty working in tandem to change the way we think and learn. We see an I&E themed Ted talk on Creighton’s campus catalyzing the flow of ideas in this space, and an innovation fair showcasing the bright new ideas bringing value to our world. We see a network of Creighton’s sharpest thinkers and leaders paving the way to a new landscape of revolutionary development according to the Jesuit principles upon which our University was founded. We see an improved method of entrepreneurial learning through project-based teaching in a safe environment for failure. We see funding from investors flowing into the ideas of Creighton students, because of our apparent success in creation.