It is important for campuses to promote student innovation and entrepreneurship, encourage faculty to foster innovative and entrepreneurial spirits, support commercialization of inventions, facilitate collaboration between the college and outside businesses, and engage in efforts regionally and local economic development efforts. These qualities on college campuses are imperative to developing skillsets that prepare students to be innovative and creative in a community of intellectuals. Spelman College is a campus community of African American women who engage in a community of intellectuals and make a choice change the world. Through an intensive liberal arts community, I believe that Spelman has significant potential to generate a community of interdisciplinary backgrounds that will support all the skillsets necessary for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Promoting Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
Students are innately creative and have ideas and solutions for problems. This is especially true on college campuses. I am often surrounded by students who are able to identify problems on the campus community and can easily come up with creative solutions to make students’ lives more easy. Spelman has embraced the need for encouraging students to inherit a mindset focused on entrepreneurship and innovation by implementing the First Year Colloquialism which engages students that are just entering the Spelman community to channel those spirits using real life examples and real world problems to solve problems. One of the problems in which the First Year Colloquialism tackles is the Black Lives Matter Movement. Students are charged with finding a solution on how to create ideas and implement projects that tackles the issues around the Black Lives Matter Movement. In addition, students have realized the importance the entrepreneurship plays in this new economy. They have begun to utilize the innovation lab more heavily and are organizing a #FashionHack. The #FashionHack will be a hackathon organized to get students from all disciplines interested in creating designs using machinery from the innovation lab. The hackathon will be judged and winners’ designs will be sold in the Spelman College bookstore.
Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship:
It is incredibly important to make sure that faculty are also encouraged to express their innovation and entrepreneurship skills. This is important because faculty will begin to have an influence on how students are perceiving these skills and get an idea on how to implement them for themselves. One way to encourage faculty and staff to engage in these skills is to get them to implement project-based curriculums for their courses and implement one big project at the end of the course where students would be able to present their projects at an expo held by the school. This will allow students to solve problems based on interdisciplinary courses and provide students with the opportunity to engage in pitching their product that would ultimately relate to their field of study while solving a real world problem.
Actively supporting the university technology transfer function:
One problem on campus is that I think not enough students are aware of the opportunities through entrepreneurship. If students are not able to imagine themselves starting their own start-up, then they will not think of the resources to make their start-up come to life. I think more students need access to understanding the process of having a start-up come to life to understand the resources that are necessary to make it actually come to life. On campus, we should expose students to the iterative process of starting a business and to show them how to use their technology intellectual property purposes.
Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration
Collaboration with the Atlanta ecosystem will be crucial and significant in the mission of trying to promote a more entrepreneurial culture on campus. As the ecosystem grows larger, there is room for student and business collaboration to get students acquainted and acclimated with starting a business. The idea is that students will obtain the skills and knowledge that is necessary in beginning their own ventures. One of the commodities I would like to see implemented is students that will be matched with an organization in the Atlanta startup ecosystem and will utilize the innovation labs to think up ideas about how to contribute to the business’ business plan to attain more customers and be competitive in this market. Students will utilize the innovation lab to collaborate with these organizations to enhance their skillset and become more advance in the entrepreneurship world.
University Innovation Fellows