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IUPUI center to create ‘centralized focus’ on innovation

The gateway sign at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis on Dec. 20, 2019. (WISH Photo from video)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — A soon-to-be established center at IUPUI will attempt foster innovation among students. The university last month received a $50,000 grant from Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures to create the Center for Student Innovation. Elevate Ventures says the center will market various entrepreneurial efforts on campus to students and faculty, and facilitate engagement.

Christian Rogers, who will serve as director of the center, tells Inside INdiana Business the goal is to create a “centralized focus” for budding entrepreneurs.

“How do we help those students understand how they take their innovation or even just their initial idea from idea all the way through the process to actual formal business creation, where they can actually get themselves in front of investors,” Rogers said. “This will make it fairly clear for a student like, ‘Oh you have an idea. This is where you can begin.’”

Rogers says the center has been at least five years in the making to “tell a cohesive story around student innovation on the campus.” He says there has been a lot of decentralized activities at IUPUI over several years, such as the Sports Innovation Institute and efforts in the School of Engineering Technology and the Kelley School of Business, as well as the annual JagStart pitch competition.

Rogers adds a faculty cohort has developed a minor in innovation, which remains subject to approval by the university. He says the Center for Student Innovation will work to bring all of these efforts under one umbrella to help students navigate the innovation landscape at IUPUI. 

The center will fall under the Institute for Engaged Learning, which was established last year.

“We’re going to be working closely with administration to support the development and further creation of the JagStart pitch competition. So we’re going to be leading that effort in April; that’s when the JagStart competition will take place. There’s another big event (called) the Innovation Challenge for incoming students. So we’re going to be kind of the one-stop reference or resource to talk about the innovation minor, as well as the other entrepreneurial activities that take place on campus for students.”

Rogers says receiving the grant from Elevate Ventures means more than just funding the center. He says it will also give students the opportunity to take advantage of the organization’s resources.

“For us, it is to the benefit of our students to have outside mentorship and networking opportunities. We also want to see our students stay and have an impact on the economy of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. There is no better place for students to develop their ideas than right at IUPUI (here in Indianapolis) and then build those ideas into flourishing organizations that can have an impact.”

Rogers says he hopes to have more details on the center’s launch in the spring.