School:University of Louisville

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Campus Overview

University of Louisville

Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship

The University of Louisville offers formal programs that channel students’ entrepreneurial skills, including an entrepreneurship minor, entrepreneurship MBA, and entrepreneurship Ph.D.  There are a few classes offered that are open to multiple disciplines built around entrepreneurship, as well as a number of departments having a specific entrepreneurship class to their major.  New partnerships are being created by the entrepreneurship department with other departments to provide additional collaborative programs in the future, benefiting both disciplines.  There are currently a few extra-curricular outlets and activities for students to take part in around entrepreneurship, such as events at FirstBuild (Hackathons, Design Thinking Workshop), Maker Faire, TEDx, however, they are not advertised well and tend to only reach a portion of engineering students. The amount of innovation and entrepreneurship in the community is amazing, but the students at the University aren’t as involved/targeted to any extent.

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

The faculty of the entrepreneurship department is involved through engagement with businesses and organizations to promote entrepreneurship on campus. The Cardinal Venture Club (CVC) seeks to help facilitate the entrepreneurial spirit here in Louisville by connecting Venture Capitalists, Entrepreneurs, Government and the University of Louisville Faculty has a large focus on research, which in turn allows more involvement for students to engage in real-life experiences. Faculty, especially those at the cancer center and renewable energy center, they are allowed to do many things outside of the university. There are many professors who start companies with things that were created by the university. The amount of faculty innovation is amazing.

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function

There are many policies that allow IP expansion by the university. The tech transfer office allows students to work outside the office in a collaborative way. There are currently applications to gain 200k in resources for a human-health research center. The tech transfer office mostly focuses on the available technologies in the medical field with tons of funding for both faculty and staff. Nevertheless, there aren’t many options other than the medical field, especially the human sciences. The tech transfer office uses “ExCite” as a way of funding entrepreneurship and it is slowly expanding to the non-medical field.

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club

The entrepreneurship and innovation club was started by a 2016 fellow in order to help foster change makers on campus. This club holds a series of workshops on varies topics. Every week they host a design thinking workshop, where students take a problem and create a solution that the club will eventually enact. There are also elevator pitch workshops where students learn from faculty in the area about different pitching techniques. The club also hosts different competitions that allow students to hone in on their skills that they have learned in the workshops.Overall this club really helps students gain valuable skills and allows them to interact with entrepreneurs in the community. 

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration

There is a strong co-op placement program in the Speed School of Engineering that provides students with opportunities to become exposed to and build relationships with companies on the cutting edge of innovation and product development. General Electric is one such company that also has FirstBuild, a micro factory - an online and physical community dedicated to designing, engineering, building, and selling the next generation of major home appliances that welcomes all community members, industry experts, and students.  The amount of research park in Louisville are few and far between, however, there are a lot of different maker spaces. LVL 1 is an independently run maker spaces that focus on personal projects of the community. It is just like FirstBuild, but without the connections and large corporation backing.

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

One of the things great about the community of Louisville is the amount of interests by the community. The community has a strong fundamental backing in the arts and humanities. The community was built as an industrial town, but never really expanded in that field and has slowly built a great cultural in the arts and humanities. The community is slowly trying to expand their ideas into the sciences with maker spaces such as LVL 1, FirstBuild(1B), and eventually water step. The community great uses and to some extents abuses these avenues. Nevertheless, you would assume the University would help, but sadly this isn’t the case. The university doesn’t seem to focus too much on the community, which is a place where it would seem to be a natural connection. The events at the maker spaces are rarely attended by any students to any great extent.

Changes from 2016 - 2017

Throughout the UIF program we learned a lot about the process of applying innovation within organizations; And as we applied the fundamental principles that we learned in the sessions, we noticed consistent results from week to week. We applied these principles to not only expand our current E&I program, but also add additional resources for the university.

One of the key aspects of the program that really helped us brainstorm our ideas was the landscape canvas.  The reason this is, is because it helped us break down our thoughts into categories and really think about each attribute of the programs. Using this helped us not only further develop the ideas but also approach them from a more ‘political’ perspective giving us a better understanding of the logistics to actually make something happen.  This concept was best exemplified when we presented the canvas’ to our stakeholders.  With the help of our stakeholders we were able to cut down our ideas down to the core and find what might be feasible for our projects.  Not only that, we were able to add ideas that we might not of initially thought of to our projects, such as involving relevant RSOs and clubs to help further our initiatives.  Bottom line, it was a great opportunity to get more eyes on the changes we are pushing to make at UofL.

Because we were able to work hand in hand with the previous fellows, it wasn’t too hard to build off of the architecture they originally established.  Since we began the program we have noticed significant growth in our existing E&I club as well as increased numbers of students enrolling in the entrepreneurship minor at UofL. With that being said, it gives us a sense of accomplishment being able to contribute to something bigger than us on campus. Regarding the new ideas we planned to initiate within the 2017 fellowship, we have taken promising steps to apply the new programs in the next academic semester which we have good faith will further the E&I presence on UofLs campus even more.


University of Louisville

University Innovation Fellows:

Spring 2016:

Brandon Young

Erin Yenney

Beau Muniz

Yuval Schaal

Spring 2017:

Haley Pfeiffer

Tim Burton

Allyssa Houston

Onajia Stubblefield