There is no doubt that entrepreneurship and innovation continues to prosper with new ventures and projects emerging on a regular basis. Most people would recognise silicon clusters and incubators, consulting companies and supporting venture capitalists but there is more, much more out there. One rising concept that aims to nurture and guide young entrepreneurs is makerspaces emerging as entrepreneur venture centers developed within universities.
Universities are a hive of entrepreneurship
For some time now the top universities have made available dedicated resources for entrepreneurs, know as makerspaces, with funding often available for these areas. Indeed, entrepreneurs new to the university scene, from a wide range of disciplines, now have access to areas where they can think clearly, develop their ideas and seek guidance from people who have been there and done it..
Venture Studio of Stanford, The Foundry Space of Duke, GoCreate Makerspace of Wichita State, Technology & Ventures Commercialization of Utah…these are examples of the many spaces within universities that are dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation. While each one of them may have its focus or a particular mission, all have similar goals and visions: to assist driven individuals in creating their startups from the ground and opening up possibilities for the future.
Simple resources in a reflective environment
Many of these makerspaces centers are often simple rooms equipped with resources and assistance to help members assess their ideas, create prototypes, get feedback, craft business proposals and look into funding options, patents and paperwork matters.
The level of insight and dedication varies from one university to another and will often depend on the funding made available. It is still an innovative and affordable first point to start from when one has an idea. Plus, most of those spaces are open to everyone: members of the community, alumni and even visiting grandparents or curious eyes. Providing membership and basic preliminary training, these spaces are an open mine of tools, machinery and people skilled in various fields of consulting. Thankfully, most of these spaces don’t retain any form of ownership over your concepts and have strict confidentiality clauses, so your business is all yours and safe. However, the networks they have access to will prove useful if you advance with your concept.
The Makerspaces of universities are also open to investors and VCs looking to fund and/or promote certain projects, companies with specific needs or issues looking for a solution. There are eager learners that want to know how to use a 3D printer and seniors trying out new classes such as programming when considering pivoting or leisure and brain stimulating activities. The rich experience of the makerspaces is more than just the versatility of people they attract but also their presence within the same space: after all, where can someone find a doctor, a biomechanics student, a designer and a patient that has to catheterize in the same room? How can they find a setting to engage in a discussion that can potentially open several improvement paths for everyone?
This is considered by many makerspaces as their driving mission: innovation through versatile disciplines and rich discussions coming together to better the human condition. There is the opportunity to improve practices that have become disconnected and come up with innovative solutions to the current problems the average person faces.
Check your local university website for a venture, innovation or entrepreneurship related space and plan a visit as soon as you can. Memberships’ fees and the resources may vary but the staff will usually try to accommodate your needs. Even just sharing in panels and discussions are interesting activities on their own, they help to open the mind, keep you in touch with new trends and put you in the “mood” for business .