The University of Texas realized that they had so many wonderful and exciting things that were happening related to innovation, entrepreneurship, including research and workshops, boot camps, classes, and curriculum, however,  had nothing tying them together.  So in the fall of 2020 they established the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in order to bring faculty, staff, students and the community together to make sure that they have access to the types of resources and entrepreneurial training they need to explore their ideas and creativity.  We are joined by Shannon Weigum co-director for the center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

Video Transcription

Harry Brelsford  0:24 

Hey, SMB Nation, Harry here at Texas State University in lovely San Marcos in the hill country. And I’m with Shannon Weigum. Shannon, great to see you again.

Shannon Weigum  0:33 

Good to see you, too. Thanks for inviting me to be here,

Harry Brelsford  0:35 

what we’re here to talk about, you’re the CO director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. What is that? What is that thing?

Shannon Weigum  0:43 

Sure Well, our centers about one year old, actually, next week, when we start classes, we launched it in the fall of 2020. And it came together out of the recognition that we had so many wonderful and exciting things that were happening related to innovation, and entrepreneurship, including research and workshops, boot camps, classes, curriculum, but there wasn’t anything that really connected it and aligned it and gave that momentum enforced to allow it to can you continue to grow. And so we established the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in order to be able to do that.

Harry Brelsford  1:19 

So it’s like you’re trying to orchestrate a lot of different motions that were going on? Is that fair?

Shannon Weigum  1:24 

Definitely We are, we are not an umbrella organization that tries to scoop everything up across the university, what we are trying to do is really connect faculty and connect students into unique programs offer and build those programs and make sure that everybody, regardless of what kind of field or college that they’re in, has access to that. So it is definitely distributed across the entire university. As opposed to often you’ll see some universities that have it inside of their business school, or they take their business, school and science and engineering and put those two together into a center for innovation that focuses on technology and research, we really have an approach that we want all students across the university, as well as our faculty and some of the community that we support locally and regionally to have access to the types of resources at work and entrepreneurial training that we can provide.

Harry Brelsford  2:22 

So you have 40,000 students, what’s the demographic report on those students?

Shannon Weigum  2:28 

Sure. Well, we’re just under 40,000 students in enrollment, and Texas State is actually listed as a Hispanic serving institution. So our demographics really reflect that of Texas, which we have a large Hispanic population, we have a large minority population, we very intentionally focus an awful lot of programs on first generation students, and ensure that they have the the support that they need to be able to be successful.

Harry Brelsford  2:56 

And let’s talk about maybe what the the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship looks like. Let me give an example. Back of my former home, the University of Washington, they pride themselves being a research university. I’m not as familiar with what their center is, I’m sure they have one. But I do recall, you know, they were doing a lot of innovation and biotech, and because Leroy Hood and took it to market and commercialized it. That’s a very different motion than maybe teaching a young person how to open up a coffee stand. Where Where do you play in that spectrum?

Shannon Weigum  3:32 

Sure. Well, you know, that is definitely a common theme. And and Texas State is a emerging research university, we’re working towards tier one research university status. So we have a hard and clear focus for our faculty, for graduate students on and even our undergraduate students on research. And that is one clear path to taking that research and the technologies and the ideas that are developed there and commercializing them. And we want to make sure that our faculty and our students have that pathway as well. So we do support that 100% with a number of programs, including our new ventures, competition, and  program that supports those types of ventures. But at the same time, we also recognize that our greatest strength is that 40,000 student population, and those undergraduates are enthusiastic, they’re idealistic, they’re, you know, and they have wonderful ideas and creativity and giving them the ability and the the tools and really, it’s the skills and the mindset.

Harry Brelsford  4:38 

Yeah, it is

Shannon Weigum  4:40 

to open a coffee shop or whether it is to build the next, you know, revolutionary app. All of those things are worthy and we support that and we focus not only on the outcome of a launch or in a company, we focus on giving students the skills, the toolset and really the mindset that helps them to be creative thinkers, creative problem solvers that that really spans and crosses over any specific discipline or any specific technical expertise.

Harry Brelsford  5:16 

Oh, I like it. Well, I’ll tell you what, next quarter we’re gonna check in with you again, and maybe we can talk about what you’re seeing for 2022

Shannon Weigum  5:24 

that sounds fantastic.

Harry Brelsford  5:25 

 All right, thanks.