The E. Claiborne Robins School of Business has established a creative space, called the iLab, for entrepreneurs to work and collaborate with each other.
The creation of the iLab has been going on for over a year, Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the business school, said.
Bagranoff described the iLab as a creative space that balances the analytical space of the Trading Floor.
Throughout the last few years, administrators have visited other innovation spaces to get ideas for UR's iLab. They visited entrepreneurship centers, innovation labs, a high school and a few universities, Bagranoff said.
The movable whiteboards, writable surfaces and flexible furniture in the iLab are based off of aspects that administrators liked in other spaces. There is also a virtual whiteboard that can save PDFs of what is written.
“We wanted something that would just kind of jar you,” Bagranoff said about the space.
The membership policy in the iLab is modeled off of the College of William and Mary’s policy for their innovation center.
“I don’t think entrepreneurship and innovation are limited to business,” Bagranoff said.
Every individual on campus can apply for membership via an online application.
“I think that’s a great opportunity for students,” Emma Henderson, WC‘20, a non-business school major, said.
Donna Ruff, administrative coordinator for the business school, reads all of the applications, grants students access and books meetings in the iLab.
The application process is fairly simple, Jacob Queller, RC‘20, a member of the iLab, said. The application is a short essay asking why the student wants to join the iLab.
Collaboration between different departments on campus can take place in the iLab, Queller said.
“Entrepreneurship is about seeing things from different perspectives and seeing things holistically,” Queller said.
Cole Hurford, RC'19, the president of the entrepreneurship club, said he used the iLab to run entrepreneurship club meetings, whereas last year the club was in a different classroom for each meeting.
Other groups, including the Robins School of Business Student Government Association, use the space as well.
A new program called iShare will take place 10 a.m. each Friday in the iLab, Bagranoff said. iShare is a program where students can make informal business pitches to faculty from the Robins School of Business and the T.C. Williams School of Law and the faculty will give students feedback.
“Anybody on campus who has an idea, as I like to say half-baked or fully-cooked, they can just go [to the iLab] and there will be people who will listen to them,” Bagranoff said. "I do know we will interact a lot more with the entrepreneurship community in Richmond as time goes by."
Other programs are being created regarding innovation and entrepreneurship, she said.
Individuals and small groups also use the iLab to work on their business ideas, Queller said. He wants to compete in the business pitch competition in the spring.
“I assume we’ll probably put in quite a few hours in the iLab,” he said.
Training sessions will be available for students and faculty to learn more about how to use the technology in the iLab.
“I hope that it will be a focal point for all of us to just be thinking about the future and thinking about innovation,” Bagranoff said.
The official launch date of the iLab is in November during international entrepreneurship week.
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