Center for Collaborative Innovation entrepreneurial grants

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Through the R.B. Annis School of Engineering, a new chance to enter entrepreneurial endeavors at the University of Indianapolis is being made possible. As a relatively new established program through the DesignSpine multidisciplinary curriculum, The Center for Collaborative Innovation (CCI) is calling for students to capitalize on creative, entrepreneurial ideas that they’ve had and believe can make an impact on the world, according to the UIndy website. It is available for students of all majors. After securing a grant from the Elevate Nexus Higher Education Award, the UIndy website said, the university was able to create this for students who want to pursue entrepreneurial desires and need resources to learn and make their ideas come to fruition. 

According to Assistant Professor of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering David Olawale, through the help of the Engineering Department and their professors, teams work together throughout the semester on projects and use some of the aforementioned grant money [$1000 for each team] to help with development. Olawale oversees much of what goes on with the CCI and encourages students to get connected with the program and try to solve a problem. 

“So in the junior year the focus is what we call the entrepreneurial mindset development,” Olawale said. “We have engineering students from different programs, whether they are doing industrial, whether they are in mechanical or software, and one of the first things is they come up with ideas to problems, and they have to go out and talk to customers.” 

This portion of the program is the beginning and incubation phase which is the preparation for the ultimate goal of being involved—getting approved for your idea, according to Olawale. In the springtime, students in the program will be involved in a business pitch competition. All specifics of the program layout are available via the Center for Collaborative Innovation tab on the UIndy website. The program also features professors of various backgrounds, Olawale said, in order to provide students with the help they need. 

“We have professor Paul Talaga, he is into computer science,” Olawale said. “So if you have to deal with software we have somebody on our team who can advise and guide. We have James Emery, he is the mechanical manager here. He is very good with tools, and many machines and other stuff so if you need to build prototypes, he can help. Then we have a professor from Art and Design, professor Rhonda Wolverton so usually your logos, your templates . . . and then we have Dr. Eric Harvey from the School of Business. He is a business law lawyer.”

The program has had proven success, experience and growth with student member, senior entrepreneurship major Jasmine Abdullah, who came to the program with an idea, and sculpted it after she worked with members of the engineering department and the CCI. Abdullah said she was able to work on establishing her business through the CCI, and that the program helped her in ways she did not see possible at first. 

“It helped me with changing my vision,” Abdullah said “Because originally my vision was a coin machine. I just wanted the coin machine and people dropping their change. And they were like ‘It needs to be an app.’ And I was reluctant for it to be an app.” 

Abdullah said all students need to do is believe in themselves and the work will be half done. The program started three years ago, and Abdullah believes that there will be much more growth within the program. As the program goes forward and more people become aware of it, Abdullah said she thinks the program will be in good hands.

“The growth of the program, I feel like it’s gonna be great because as long as the students that come in and see the program utilize it for everything: the resources, the vision, whatever vision they have, just put it all in there, because they’re the resources,” Abdullah said. “They’re the ones that can put you with people to help you. They’re the ones that are going to offer you advice.”

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