West Virginians know that our home is brimming with tremendous resources and opportunities.
But to realize all of its potential, the time had come for West Virginia to think differently about innovation and job creation to move into a future fueled by start-ups and entrepreneurship.
WVU’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics has risen to the challenge of propelling the future of innovation in West Virginia by building the infrastructure and resources needed to fuel start-ups and support entrepreneurs with bold ideas that can transform our economy.
Our College is proud to support the life cycle of entrepreneurship from idea to market. It’s important to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in our students, and they have an incredible resource in the LaunchLab, where they can gain first-hand experience with idea pitching and prototyping.
They can then take that idea and enter it in the Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition to get the coaching and support needed from other entrepreneurs to grow their business – and they can even secure the seed money to fund their continued growth if they win.
They now have a resource to scale their business and take it to market through Vantage Ventures, where there are currently eight entrepreneurs in residence. They have also been pioneers in their work with state government partners to adopt a regulatory Fintech Sandbox to encourage the development of new and rising industries within our borders.
The Encova Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation supports state businesses through their Small Business Assistance Program, which teamed up with WVU faculty, staff and experts throughout the state during the early days of COVID-19 to connect them with the right resources to navigate limited offerings and closures. They helped nearly 60 businesses through virtual workshops focused on marketing through Google Ads grants, human resources tips, supply chain management guidance and budgetary support as a result. These workshops will continue as part of the Encova Center’s mission to support the state.
The monumental effort of building the next chapter for a new West Virginia economy is coming to life through the efforts of these teams, comprised of innovators and pioneers who are fearlessly leading the way. The collaborative spirit and energy of our partners across WVU, our state government and the business community has also been integral on this journey as we work to amplify Appalachia through entrepreneurship.
A new chapter is being written for West Virginia right here, right now. In five years, the headlines will reflect how these important steps have shaped thriving businesses and a digital-first economy that will position our state to lead the way in innovation.
Milan Puskar Dean, Chambers College
Vice President, Start-up West Virginia