Front row, left to right: Clare De Young, Katherine Bozarth, Nicole Salmi, Christine Burns, Dyllin Sloan, Bobby Nguyen, Colton Somes, Fred Liu (leading faculty of TCA)
Second row left to right: Ryan Halterman, Brett Lee, Parker Burchett, Taylor Mauzy, Andrew Lavoie, Corey Ross (EWU alumnus and co-founder of Finagraph)
This summer, the EWU Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) will be hosting their inaugural technology commercialization academy. Beginning June 25 through August 17, 12 fellows will meet at EWU’s Spokane campus four days a week to develop real world business plans, meet with local business experts and spend time at Startup Spokane.
The idea for the academy originated from Provost Gordon and resulted in a partnership with Washington State University (WSU).
“At his prior university, he had done something similar to this and it was really successful and a very exciting learning opportunity for the students,” said Bruce Teague, associate professor of management and director of the center for entrepreneurship. “Our vision for entrepreneurship on campus is that ideas for businesses and organizations come from everywhere. Given that vision, Provost Gordon suggested that this might be a really great fit for connecting students across our university to a really cool, real world opportunity.”
Teague then met with Brian Kraft of WSU who were willing to bring in intellectual property that their researchers had developed but hadn’t been moved forward, solving the question of how the academy would supply the inventions for the fellows.
Teague, along with Carolyn Wika and Fred Liu, CFE director of technology commercialization, applied for a grant through Herbert B. Jones Foundation and just four weeks ago discovered they had been rewarded roughly $124,000 to support the academy for three years. The grant also allows them to offer financial support to the fellows completing the program.
“If they complete the program successfully, then they are designated EWU technology commercialization fellows and they will receive a $1,500 stipend that they can use any way that they’d like,” said Teague.
The application for the academy consisted of two questions: why are you interested in the academy and what can you contribute to the academy? The application was and will continue to be open to all students across campus for the next two years.
Teague and Liu aimed for a diverse group of students, selecting just one to two students from each major. This year’s academy includes students from computer science, marketing, philosophy and more.
Once the fellows complete their commercialization plans, they have the opportunity to compete in business plan competitions on campus and all over the country, giving them the chance to network with students from other universities who are doing similar things to what they’re doing.
“There is a full spectrum of possibilities,” said Teague. “It’s also a chance to win money that can seed the start of these companies without any equity exchange at all which is a phenomenal opportunity. Additionally, if there is enough promise to the commercialization plan that they develop, they can easily license it through WSU and they can launch these companies if they want.”
The Center for Entrepreneurship hopes to continue to grow the academy over the coming years. Each year will be slightly different, with a different technological focus and a possibility for an increased number of fellows.
“The things that the students at this university are creating, the potential they’re unleashing is unbelievable,” said Teague. “The goal is to unleash the potential of this campus and it’s amazing what is happening already and what’s being produced.”
For more information on the Center for Entrepreneurship, visit their website.