William and Mary’s new entrepreneurship center will offer students and local startup owners the resources to learn from each other and collaborate on projects when it opens in Tribe Square this fall.
That’s the vision that Graham Henshaw, executive director of the William and Mary Entrepreneurship Center, detailed as he spoke about the incubator and coworking space to local leaders and members of the city’s business community at the EDA’s monthly roundtable Tuesday.
Earlier this year, William and Mary announced that its Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center would come together with the the Launchpad regional business incubator at a second entrepreneurship hub being built in the Tribe Square mixed-use retail and residential student housing building on Richmond Road.
Launchpad will leave its current offices in New Town, and will be operated by William and Mary, Henshaw said. Because of that, the new entrepreneurship hub will be heavily focused on blurring the lines between students and startup owners, offering them both the same wide array of resources and encouraging “engineered collisions” between the two groups.
“As an instructor and an educator, I think there’s a huge benefit for students to see what real entrepreneurship looks like, and I think there’s also a benefit in the other direction,” he said at the meeting. “These ventures can benefit from students participating in their companies. There’s lots of expertise and lots of enthusiasm and energy in our students, so what we want to see is a lot of overlap and a lot of collaboration, and we’re building the space to manufacture that.”
Henshaw said that demolition in the former restaurant space that the Entrepreneurship Center will move into has been completed, and work has begun on foundational work and upgrading utilities.
Launchpad clients will be able to use entrepreneurship hub resources like conference rooms, coworking areas and maker spaces, and will be able to meet with William and Mary’s network of business mentors. Launchpad clients also will receive William and Mary IDs, allowing them to access certain college buildings to use its tools and resources.
“This is not just a collection of folks at William and Mary that think this is a good idea, this comes from the highest level of the university,” Henshaw said. “This is a university priority to develop innovation and entrepreneurship and affect the entire culture of the university, and this collaboration with Launchpad is going to be part and parcel to that.”
For more information about the William and Mary Entrepreneurship Center, visit millercenter.mason.wm.edu.
Rodrigo Arriaza, firstname.lastname@example.org, 757-790-9313, @rodrigoarriaza0