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Innovative Ideas Leave Wyoming, UW Wants Them To Stay

Screen shot from March 21-23, 2018 UW Board of Trustees' Report

A new effort at the University of Wyoming is designed to turn academic research into businesses. The creation of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship got a vote of approval from the UW board of trustees last week.

The partnership between the Colleges of Engineering and Business, grew out of President Laurie Nichols’s 5-year strategic plan.

Engineering Dean Michael Pishko said there are similar efforts already underway at the university, but in isolated pockets. He mentioned the success of the Wyoming Technology Business Center, and said President Nichols wants to expand these types of opportunities across all disciplines at the university.

“The institute really serves as an integrator and coordinator of these activities, so that we aren’t duplicating efforts.” Pishko said now, “we have efforts that are complementary to each other, and we have entrepreneurship and innovation learning opportunities available to all students on campus.”

Pishko said, for example, successful apps require the skills of both artists and engineers, and the institute will make efforts to bring these groups together. There are also plans to create a major and a minor in entrepreneurship, and students and faculty from all disciplines will have the opportunity to engage with a “business creation factory.”

Faculty and students come up with great ideas, Pishko explained, but don’t necessarily have business skills. The “factory” is to help demystify entrepreneurship, which Pishko said will benefit Wyoming’s economy.

“If you get them to start here, they are much more likely to stay. It also helps with us retaining more of our young talent in the state.”

Pishko said a professor of mechanical engineering was involved in research to improve football helmet technology, which received national attention at this year’s Super Bowl. But he said that product is now being produced by a company out of Colorado. Pishko said the goal is to keep those ideas in Wyoming.  

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