University Economic Development Association

Awards Session: Innovation + Talent

Florida Atlantic University – Building an Innovation Pipeline

Speakers: Dana Vouglitois, J.D., CLP – Assistant Director, Office of Technology Development, Florida Atlantic University
Jessica Beaver – Associate Director, Florida Atlantic University Tech Runway

Since its inception in 1964, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has been dedicated to the multifaceted mission of delivering the best in higher education. This includes a commitment to the economic development of South Florida, as well as the entire state.

In 2014, FAU Tech Runway (TR), an accelerator for early stage startups, in an effort to enhance FAU’s impact on the economic ecosystem in South Florida. This program is designed to assist faculty, staff, students and the community at large on their entrepreneurial journey.

Building off the success of FAU TR, the newly hired Vice President of the Division of Research initiated the FAU Wave program, an applied research and entrepreneurial competition for undergraduate students. This program has become a feeder program for the TR accelerator program.

Over the past few years, FAU TR and FAU Wave have expanded their offerings through collaborations with internal departments such as the College of Business’ Adams Center for Entrepreneurship, built external partnerships to assist students and entrepreneurs, won an NSF I-Corps site grant, and created a university-based investor network. In addition, FAU partnered with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which provides free resources and expert consultants to both FAU and the community.

This has had a powerful impact not only in the FAU community, but the entire South Florida region. Over six years, (self reported by companies) over 642 jobs have been created, 199 internship opportunities, 120 patent applications filed, 35 student-led companies developed, and over $1 million in cash prizes awarded.

Learn more about this project here.


University of Alaska Center for Economic Development – The Failure // Resilience Project

Speakers: Julia LaVigne – Entrepreneurship Consultant, University of Alaska Center for Economic Development

Using a variety of mediums – research brief, film, portraiture, and in-person panels, The Failure // Resilience Project shares candid stories of failure and resilience from local entrepreneurs. From the wild ride of being a startup founder to chasing a dream and failing, you’ll hear it all: the highs, the lows, and lessons learned.

Learn more about this project here.


University of Iowa – Venture School Entrepreneurial Training Program

Speakers: David Hensley – Executive Director & Clinical Professor, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, University of Iowa
Lynn Allendorf – Director, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, University of Iowa

Venture School is a statewide entrepreneurial training program developed by the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC). The program was created to fill a void in entrepreneurial training and support across Iowa, particularly in small towns and rural communities, with a goal of economic development impact including number of business starts and jobs created. Based on the NSF I-Corps model, it was customized to enable training of entrepreneurs with a variety of backgrounds, types of businesses, and geographic locations.

The curriculum was made more inclusive, taking into consideration the needs of community businesses, micro-enterprises and not-for-profits, as well as the more typically supported high-technology, high-growth startups. The ability to provide training to disparate entrepreneurs and to customize programming for under-represented groups enabled Iowa JPEC to serve all Iowans pursuing entrepreneurship.

A unique aspect of the program is to provide ongoing support to the entrepreneurs after the end of the training, both from Iowa JPEC as well as from various partners who are physically located in the same community as the entrepreneur. Examples of this longterm assistance include exclusive access to University of Iowa students for internships and priority acceptance in Iowa JPEC business consulting and mentoring programs. Since program inception in 2013, 842 entrepreneurs from 451 startups have been trained through 56 cohorts in ten locations across the state of Iowa.

Learn more about this project here. 


University of Wisconsin Oshkosh – gener8tor Upskilling

Speakers: Jeff Sachse – Director, Center for Customized Research and Services University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Microsoft launched the Global Skilling Initiative (GSI) to support individuals under or unemployed as a result of the global pandemic. gener8tor Upskilling, a partnership between New North, Microsoft, Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation and gener8tor, combined gener8tor’s expertise in supporting people to rapidly meet their goals with the free reskilling resources of Microsoft Learn, LinkedIn Learning and GitHub. By combining one-on-one concierge support, participants learn with a small cohort of other learners to get new technical (customer service, sales, software development, and CompTia Network+ to date) and professional skills (Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, Professional Soft Skills and Finding a Job during Challenging Economic Times) with the goal of securing a new role.

After the pilot that re-skilled 18 people we have grown to 7 other markets (launching 3 more in the next 2 months.) Northeast Wisconsin now has 56 (37% people of color) re-skilled people in customer service, sales or CompTIA Network+. 57% of the WI graduates have secured new roles from cohorts graduating in August 2020, December 2020 and May 2021. Thrivent Foundation joined the partnership after the August cohort.

Learn more about this project here.

September 20 @ 10:45
10:45 — 12:00 (1h 15′)

Pulaski