Kent State Hosts Regional Entrepreneurship Immersion Week
From July 28 to August 2, 2019, forty students from ten different Northeast Ohio colleges and universities convened at Kent State to be immersed in an entrepreneurial experience like no other. For the five days and four nights students worked together, with faculty, staff, and regional business leaders, to create innovative solutions that address local industry and community challenges. The event is one of two major programs put on each year by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC) and funded through the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. The event was hosted by LaunchNET Kent State, with support from University Libraries.
“This year’s event encompassed a major change from the past 12 years, in that we invited company and community partners to introduce specific industry challenges to the student teams,” said LaunchNET’s executive director Julie Messing. “Additionally, we created student teams from multiple schools in order to give the participants more of an opportunity to network and get to know their colleagues from other schools.”
The sponsoring partners who presented challenges for teams to tackle were Smithers-Oasis, located in Kent; Sibling Revelry Brewery in Westlake; and the Paradox Prize community challenge through the Fund for our Economic Future. The students had the opportunity to talk with representatives from each challenge and spent the week working and learning together on an innovative solution to address one of the challenges. They presented their ideas on Thursday August 1, which ranged from small business marketing ideas and product extensions, to new applications and market opportunities for specific types of foam, and how to address employment and transportation problems for the homeless in Northeast Ohio.
One team from each of the three challenges won $500 for each student, as decided by a panel of judges from the presenting sponsors and external entrepreneurs. The awards were presented at a luncheon held in the Schwebel room, and Northeast Ohio business owner Michael Kahoe, of Group Management Services (GMS) in Richfield, inspired the audience with a keynote talk about his journey starting and growing his employee management business.
Students had the opportunity to learn from experts across campus and the region, in topics like design thinking from Design Innovation executive director JR Campbell; tech options and Agile methodology from Mel McGee, owner of We Can Code IT; research assistance from University Libraries faculty Karen MacDonald, Jasmine Jefferson, Vanessa Earp, and Michael Hawkins; and storytelling principles with photography faculty Gary Harwood.
Zach Mikrut, assistant director of LaunchNET, reflected that “we are glad to be able to give these students, from all different majors and schools, the opportunity to get to know one another in an environment that helped them make connections with one another, the companies involved in the challenges, but also in how they perceive and solve problems.”
The participants came from the ten member schools of the EEC: Ashland University, Baldwin Wallace University, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lorain County Community College, The University of Akron, and the University of Mount Union. For more information about the EEC or EIW, contact Reka Barabas, EEC chief relationship officer at email@example.com