Innovating the Future
February 24, 2016
As a collaborative effort between Virginia Tech Housing & Residence Life, Pamplin College of Business, and university faculty members, Innovation was born.
In August 2013, those core groups came together with the common goal of creating a unique program to jumpstart innovation and entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech. Hosting a range of students representing all seven colleges within the university, the focus of the program is brought to light and applied within many different disciplines.
“This diversity coupled with a residential entrepreneurial focus makes the organization extremely unique and the perfect location to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech,” said Brett Langstaff, President and Co-Founder of Innovate.
Innovate is led by the students themselves, and who manage activities and responsibilities such as marketing the brand, designing events, developing policies and setting long-term goals for the organization.
Langstaff gives a lot of credit to the students of Innovate, saying that they have created a brand architecture and community, and “have built the program from the ground up.”
With ties to the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, students in Innovate take part in day-to-day learning experiences including events in the community and on campus, taking an Introduction to Entrepreneurship class, and engaging with residential entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs in Residence is a pilot program launched within Innovate this year. The program is part of an initiative to connect students with alumni and industry specialists. The entrepreneurs are invited throughout the semester on a weekly basis to stay on campus in a suite in Pritchard Hall and provide hands-on guidance for the Innovate students.
“This highly immersive program allows the students direct access to extremely successful entrepreneurs, many of which are Virginia Tech alumni,” said Langstaff. “We have hosted five alumni this semester in a rotating weekly schedule and have seen great success thus far.”
The program members also gain from mentorship through the Virginia Tech Investor Network, and participate in a series of activities such as Innovation and Coding Challenges, Entrepreneurial Treks – which take students on trips to network and ideate – and The Entrepreneur & Innovator Table monthly lunches with local business leaders.
In the coming years, Apex Systems C.I.E., Pamplin, and other Innovate stakeholders plan to continue expanding on the value of the program, while maintaining the mission of the program: To discover, prepare, and connect the next generation of entrepreneurial-leaders.