The WVU LaunchLab Network was recognized on the global stage as an Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center at the Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Center’s annual conference in Chicago, Illinois on Oct. 21.
Awarded as a top finalist for having a clearly defined target audience and purpose as a center that has been open for five years or less, the LaunchLab Network received recognition for championing its exceptional engagement with students and community members, encouragement of cross-departmental collaboration and ability to raise funds that support clients’ innovative ideas.
“Our LaunchLab Network’s powerful role in helping our students and community members bring their ideas to fruition is widely known on campus,” said Provost Joyce McConnell. “It is wonderful to see the Network recognized internationally for the caliber of the work they do to inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.”
Since WVU LaunchLab Network’s inception in 2014, more than 660 venture ideas have passed through the center’s doors, nearly $90,000 in funding have been awarded to clients for innovation development and its female clientele has increased by 77 percent over the last two years. Success has also expanded to the Beckley campus LaunchLab and a third location is slated to open in 2019.
The award winners were selected through a rigorous nomination and evaluation process undergoing review by a panel of 35 academic peers. More than 100 university programs were nominated this year among the 250+ GCEC worldwide membership. Other finalists included: The Entrepreneurship Center of the Federal University of Itajuba; the Jill Ker Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Smith College; the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship; the Wond'ry at Vanderbilt University; and the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs at Virginia Tech.
Carrie White, Assistant Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Nora Myers, Director of WVU LaunchLab at Beckley, expressed their excitement to be distinguished by a global entity among their international peers. They said: “Our rapid growth, including the expansion to the Beckley campus and securing grant funding, has helped us realize a number of success stories among our students, faculty and staff. They are launching businesses, securing patents and licensing deals. This international recognition by a global body is a tremendous honor, and we look forward to continuing to expand our reach across West Virginia to empower more discoveries that can transform our state and beyond.”
West Virginia University’s LaunchLab Network serves as a comprehensive, one-stop shop to help students develop and commercialize their ideas, innovations, inventions or business models. In a motivating and supportive environment, the LaunchLab Network is an applied innovation center offers hands-on idea development support, education, mentorship, prototyping facilities, resources and connections to empower entrepreneurs across West Virginia.
The LaunchLab Network is part of the WVU IDEA Hub, a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community.