By February 25, 2020 Read More →

WVU’s strength in entrepreneurship and innovation bolstered by alignment of resources

From WVU Today:

MORGANTOWN, W. Va.— West Virginia University’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship resources that fuel the creation of businesses from idea to market is stronger than ever.

WVU’s will join the Encova Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Vantage Ventures as campus and statewide resources fueled by the John Chambers College of Business and Economics. (WVU Photo)

In an effort to support growing campus resources in the innovation space, WVU is aligning these resources to allow for a more streamlined approach to serving students, faculty, staff and aspiring entrepreneurs across the state and beyond.

The LaunchLab will join the Encova Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Vantage Ventures as campus and statewide resources fueled by the John Chambers College of Business and Economics.  

“We recognize the invaluable role WVU plays in boosting entrepreneurship, innovation and startups across the Mountain state,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed. “By aligning the LaunchLab with the expertise and talent in the Chambers College, we can continue to enhance and strengthen those resources and extend our impact across our campus and West Virginia.”

Executive Director Carrie White will continue leading operations and services for the LaunchLab, and will expand her role to the classroom as a teaching associate professor in the entrepreneurship program. The WVU IDEA Faculty Fellows will continue to be supported by the Provost’s Office under White’s leadership, drawing faculty participants from across the University, regardless of their field of study, to infuse innovation, creative thinking and problem solving in the classroom. 

“Since the LaunchLab opened its doors six years ago, we’ve seen great success in helping students and innovative WVU community members use our services and resources to formulate, develop and commercialize their ideas,” said White. “We look forward to maintaining a multidisciplinary approach, supporting all disciplines and colleges through our innovation pipeline and are excited for our students to embrace new opportunities as we move forward.”

The new alignment of resources is aimed at expanding collaborative efforts in recognition of the entrepreneurship ecosystem that has produced success stories from clients who started utilizing resources from the LaunchLab and the Encova Center as students to grow their ideas, and now are in residence at Vantage Ventures to scale them to market.

Jordan Masters’ microgreen business and Iconic Air are businesses born from students with big ideas. They took those ideas to the LaunchLab as a first step for coaching, and they took the next step by entering those ideas in the WV Statewide Annual Business Plan Competition, hosted by the Encova Center. They are now both in residence in Vantage Ventures to take their businesses to the next level. 

“The energy and momentum around entrepreneurship and innovation at WVU has been tremendous,” said Javier Reyes, Milan Puskar Dean for the Chambers College and Vice President of Startup West Virginia. “We have to think differently about startups to create an environment that fosters success. We are aligning our resources in a way that will offer all WVU students across all majors the support they need to grow an idea into a successful venture. These efforts will support our broader efforts to build pathways and partnerships from WVU, the community, state and beyond to continue the momentum we have in the innovation space.”

The LaunchLab at West Virginia University Institute of Technology will continue to operate as part of the LaunchLab Network under Director Nora Myers’ leadership.  

“We’re so proud to have the LaunchLab here,” said WVU Tech Campus President Carolyn Long. “Nora’s work with our students, faculty and community has been a powerful resource for innovation and entrepreneurship here in Beckley. Students working with the lab have launched dozens of incredible business and product ideas. IDEA Faculty Fellows have been infusing our curriculum with entrepreneurship concepts. The lab has also been helpful in landing grant funding for programs that will boost innovation in the classroom for years to come. The network has been a gamechanger for this campus.”

Since WVU LaunchLab Network’s inception in 2014, more than 2,500 students and close to 200 venture ideas have passed through the center’s doors, and its female clientele has increased by 32 percent over the last two years. Over $100,000 in funding has been awarded to clients for innovation development. In the 2018-2019 academic year alone, the LaunchLab hosted 12 pitch competitions, and successful clients were invited to participate in nine national competitions or incubator programs across the country. The LaunchLab Network has received national and international recognition for its engagement and leadership. Learn more about the LaunchLab Network at

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