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.
Spelman has a ways to go in terms of a good amount of resources that foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Spelman hosts speakers series and provides opportunities for students to network. However, more can be done to help Spelman women within the college curriculum to start and pursue a business idea.
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.
I want to echo that the innovation lab is a great place for student innovation and entrepreneurship. All students are welcome to use it for discussing ideas and bringing them to life. Innovation co-hosts and lab leaders strive to engage students in interdisciplinary collaborations to cultivate new and revolutionary ideas. The innovation lab also runs a number of clubs: the entrepreneurship club, design club, and Spelman XR club. The entrepreneurship club welcomes all students and exposes them to established entrepreneurs who counsel them on their ideas.
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.
Most of the faculty use innovative techniques to introduce students to real world examples of the skills they are trying to each and employ black celebrities to engage students. The push towards entrepreneurship comes from the art and career driven departments. Faculty often make suggestions about the creative things students can do in future professions or as a side hustle.
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.
This year, we looked into Spelman’s Innovation Lab, the STEM Research Study, and internship programs as university-industry collaboration. Students can use the innovation lab and the entrepreneurship club has students pitch their ideas to companies. Internships put students in the workplace and can give them experience of the day-to-day.
University Innovation Fellows