School:University of Richmond

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Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship:

The University of Richmond provides many valuable resources for students to learn and pursue their path of innovation and entrepreneurship. Our school has developed Living-Learning Programs, such as Richmond Endeavor and Sophomore Scholars in Residence. Many professors also incorporate elements of innovation and entrepreneurship into their courses. So, many students are learning the concepts of innovation and entrepreneurship from their classes. Additionally, we hold inspirational events for students to engage with I&E in-depth, including speaker series, symposiums, and Jepson Leadership Forum. Our school also offers how-to workshops to teach students how to apply our knowledge to real-world contexts. Our Marketing and Communication strategies effectively help the school let students know these opportunities on campus. Media, such as Spiderbytes, UR Collegian Newspaper and Forum Magazine, presents a clear image of what students can learn and achieve on campus.

The University of Richmond helps enable students’ passion for innovation and entrepreneurship by directly creating courses for this specific category in both undergraduate and graduate levels. Students themselves also create extracurricular activities related to I&E, such as Entrepreneurship Club and Seeds Project. Additionally, students have access to a variety of extracurricular mentorship organizations, both social and professional, that foster personal growth while at the university. Some of these organizations are major or interest-specific, while others have a broader focus on adjusting to university life. Examples of these organizations include Alpha Sigma Kappa (Women in STEM), the Robins Mentoring Program, and so on.

Students are encouraged to enhance their learning by participating in extracurricular competitions such as the Business Pitch Competition, Jepson Ethics Bowl, and more. Career Services at the University of Richmond also offers students tour to the Virginia Startups, where many startups gather. More importantly, the University of Richmond emphasizes how students apply what they have already learned to practice through the Richmond Guarantee and by serving in the community. For example, some student organizations, such as Lakeside Consulting Group, leverage students talents for the good of the greater Richmond community by offering their services to local business. The school provides fundings called Richmond Guarantee for students to participate in research with professors and internships at different corporations. During their time at Richmond, there are hundreds of places where students can gain hands-on experiences, such as brainstorming activities, group projects, experiments, prototypes, and technical training. In addition to the spaces on campus, student employment offers students to experience the real-life work environment and helps them get ready for their professional careers after graduation, beyond what Career Services programming offers. Career consulting, mock interviews, on-campus recruiting, and resume checks are all facilitated by Career Services with the aim of providing students with internship and job opportunities

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship:

The University of Richmond can be characterized as a place where faculty are more recently being supported and urged to be entrepreneurial. While this is true, there seems to be more short-term institutional support compared to long-term. Just last year, the Robins School of Business opened the EY Innovation Lab which is intended for student and faculty use. The purpose is for faculty and students alike to have a creative space in which to brainstorm and prototype their ideas, with unique features such as all whiteboard walls and plenty of screen space. Because of this, faculty in the business school have often opted to hold classes in the room and urge students to take advantage of it. Additionally, while there is a Spatial Analysis lab and various departmental research labs, there are no related graduate or certificate programs. Furthermore, there is a Creativity-Innovation-Entrepreneurship Faculty Committee which is led by the Office of the President. While faculty are more recently being pushed towards entrepreneurship and innovation, students at the University of Richmond seem to have more support and encouragement in this realm. It is also of note that the Robins School of Business may be pushed more heavily in this direction.

Facilitating university-industry collaboration:

The University of Richmond provides opportunities for students to engage innovation and entrepreneurship in a number of different ways. The most significant is through the various departmental lab spaces that are available for student use on campus. Frequently, students in Arts and Sciences courses utilize these research spaces to develop something new. The Digital Research and Spatial Analysis labs also provide opportunities for students to engage in cutting edge-research. UR also dedicates $2 Million each year in Natural Sciences Research Grants for undergraduate students. These are great resources for current students; however, these resources are not extended to alumni use. Post-graduation, the University does not provide much opportunity for students to engage innovation. There are currently no resources related to raising capital at the university, although it is surrounded both regionally and locally by a number of venture capital firms. In general, most students do not utilize the limited networks that are available for their development, if they are aware that those networks exist. For example, if a student wishes, they may reach out to members of the Alumni Network for support, advice, and potential job or internship opportunities. However, it is suspected that not many students take advantage of these opportunities.   


Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts: 

The University of Richmond approaches regional and local innovation and entrepreneurship in very limited ways. Upon review, the University of Richmond offers connections with a variety of regional innovation opportunities and networks such as the Greater Richmond Chamber, The Venture Forum, and Feast RVA. These networks and organizations provide some resources to University of Richmond students, but looking at current student outcomes, it seems that these services and networks are not highly utilized or even highlighted or pointed out to students who might possesses an interest in exploring or developing a startup culture after the completion of the undergraduate studies.

The University of Richmond approaches regional and local innovation and entrepreneurship in very limited ways. Upon review, the University of Richmond offers connections with a variety of regional innovation opportunities and networks such as the Greater Richmond Chamber, The Venture Forum, and Feast RVA. These networks and organizations provide some resources to University of Richmond students, but looking at current student outcomes, it seems that these services and networks are not highly utilized or even highlighted or pointed out to students who might possesses an interest in exploring or developing a startup culture after the completion of the undergraduate studies.

The University has implemented some initiatives to have greater regional impact, which could possibly act as outlets for entrepreneurship and innovation in the university community. The biggest initiative of the university to engage with the greater community is through UR Downtown, which offers students a 'shared learning environment and platform for engaging together in the heart of a diverse metropolitan area.' It is meant to support cross-sector collaboration and economic impact in the Richmond City, and also facilitate new learning opportunities using Richmond's entrepreneurial, governmental and legal hubs downtown. 

UR also has the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement to connect students, faculty, staff and community stakeholders in social change efforts utilizing the knowledge and potential of these communities. Bonner Scholars are named, and do social work in the area. There seems to be scope for entrepreneurial innovation through this channel as well.

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