The Northeast Indiana region has been an international hub of innovation and entrepreneurship for over two centuries (1). Inventors like Philo Farnsworth were influential in charting a course for the 20th century. His electric television is perhaps one the most famous innovations to come out of Fort Wayne. Another one of Fort Wayne’s contributions to the international economy was the magnet wire. Historical records show the Dudlo Manufacturing Co. of Fort Wayne, was the largest magnet-wire producer in the country during 1910s to 1920s. Additionally, Horton Manufacturing, founded in 1871 by Henry C. Paul and John C. Peters in Fort Wayne, developed a variety of small washing machines, including the first all-in-one washing machine for the home. These innovations “cemented Fort Wayne’s reputation as the Silicon Valley of the day” (2).
Unfortunately, during the 1970s and 1980s, the region encountered a period of unemployment, increased crime, and a decrease in blue-collar manufacturing jobs (3). Those challenges sparked opportunities in the early 2000s that started to turn things around. A decade of major revitalization efforts, including, crime reduction and economic diversification, aptly nicknamed Fort Wayne “the city that saved itself.” Today, Fort Wayne, and the Northeast Indiana region, is home to hundreds of manufacturing and innovative industries specifically defense, automotive, and medical high-tech.
Fort Wayne is once again a growing, vibrant community, known for its charming small-town life style with big-city amenities (4). Andrew Medal (5) describes it as a great entrepreneurial scene: “there has to be a healthy atmosphere of investment and innovation to get people in, but to get them to stay is a whole ‘nother story.” Furthermore, according to Medal: “Great startup cities need to have a culture, voice and mission. It’s what defines them as unique, a place to go because it’s not only where your skill sets lie, but where you feel like you can help change the world.”
Purdue University Fort Wayne - Northeast Indiana's flagship metropolitan, public university - is growing its engagement with the community and further contributing to the economic growth and vitality of the region. It is well known that “universities play an important role in the regional entrepreneurial climate,” assert Jansen, et al (6). This has been the impetus for launching the IDEASpace* to facilitate an entrepreneurial mindset in teaching and learning. Edmonson and McManus (7) explain: “as institutes focus on creating new inventions and knowledge, they serve as an important output of knowledge and innovation, which can be exploited by new ventures.” Etzkowitz (8) refers to it as the second academic revolution.
*IDEASpace: Innovation, Design-Thinking, Entrepreneurship, Active-Learning, (makers) Space
Purdue University Fort Wayne launched the IDEASpace (Innovation, Design thinking, Entrepreneurship, Active learning, (maker) Space) in fall 2018 to foster a culture of innovation on campus. The Helmke Library houses the IDEASpace in two locations. The west wing is 1,200 square feet of flexible space for meetings and teaching, and the basement is 2,800 square feet of maker’s space.
The goal is to engage with industry leaders, community-based organizations, and other like-minded partners/mentors to graduate students who possess an entrepreneurial mindset and will contribute to the economic development of the region.
The vision for the IDEASpace is to be the leading center of teaching and learning for innovation, design thinking, and entrepreneurship. The faculty fellows program is the first of many steps to start of community of practice to support this vision.
Funding for the first cohort of faculty fellows in entrepreneurship is being made available by the office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Fellows will receive a one-time stipend/salary supplement of $5,000 during summer or a course release during the academic year. The fellowship will be renewable every year based on funding availability. Additional cohorts will be recruited in subsequent years. Fellows are expected to integrate an entrepreneurial mindset, related concepts/applications, and active learning into their teaching (i.e. developing a new course or revamping existing courses), research and/or outreach activities. The cohort of faculty fellows will execute the following tasks to grow a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on Purdue Fort Wayne’s campus, and in support of their applications:
Faculty Fellows may also propose scholarly research, prepare and submit research proposals, and/or outreach programs relating to entrepreneurship, engaging their students, in lieu of the course development.
The IDEASpace faculty fellows program will be administered by the deans and/or a designated group of faculty, staff, and industry partners who will solicit proposals, review submissions and select the fellows, coordinate participation in professional development workshops, host/facilitate the monthly forums, and perform program evaluation. Faculty members who wish to apply for the IDEASpace fellows program may fill out the attached application form and provide the information requested on the form by March 15, 2019.