(Photo by Flickr user Mark Plummer, used under a Creative Commons license)
Loyola University Maryland is launching the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with a focus on empowering “change agents” in Baltimore.
Led by recently-named director Wendy Bolger, the center will provide programming and resources that support entrepreneurs who are already getting started at the North Baltimore campus. It also has a wider mission to reach out to the wider Baltimore community as it looks to contribute to job and wealth creation in the city. The center is being supported with a $1.46 million gift from biotech executive Nick Simon and the Baltimore-based Frank family, according to Loyola.
Bolger said the center will seek to create space for all, but she identified a focus lying in harnessing the approaches that lead to new ventures for social good. That makes sense, given the university’s Jesuit roots and history of service, as well as their goal to help the city.
“Innovation is what will better the lives of people across the city, and ultimately transform Baltimore, and Loyola will play a role in that transformation through the center,” Bolger said in Loyola’s announcement.
Loyola has helped attract and educate a number of Baltimore entrepreneurs, and part of the center’s task will be to serve as an umbrella of resources for community members for the university’s available resources that are available. “We’re really building on momentum that has been growing for a long time at Loyola,” Bolger said this week, adding that the conversations, adding that whether it’s student entrepreneurs or the library’s makerspace, entrepreneurship and innovation activity has been taking place around campus. Conversations and working groups have been developing over the last year leading up to the launch, she said.
The center’s focus areas include:
- An interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Program that is part of the university’s course offerings, which includes a minor.
- An idea lab to provide for prototyping, which builds on an existing makerspace at the university library.
- Baltipreneurs’ Institute supporting local entrepreneurs, providing connections to students, faculty and alumni.
- In the future, plans are also in the works to launch an accelerator.
Bolger, who previously directed innovation strategy at Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, said the opportunity immediately resonated with her. “It’s one of those times when it was, ‘This is the best job description I’ve ever read.'” The mission to help the whole community and role in starting a new center especially stood out.
Students, of course, are also top-of-mind. They will also be involved in running the center, and Bolger wants to create a collaborative environment. When it comes to creating social change, “It’s really important to me that everyone feels like there are tools within innovation that they can use,” she said.
As we noted in this week’s On the Market column, Loyola is also seeking an entrepreneur in residence.
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