The Big Idea program is back at Colorado College for a second year, again offering a $50,000 start-up award for a lucky and industrious student’s innovative entrepreneurial idea. The program has a new focus on growth, collaboration, and success. Permanent integration is the school’s strategic theme.
“Last year was a pilot project, an attempt to see if this was something worth doing”, said Dan Johnson, the advisor of the Big Idea program and chair of the Colorado College Economics Department.
According to Johnson, the reaction to last year’s Big Idea initiative was unanimously positive, thus the program will return. However, with the precedents set, there is definitely pressure for progress. “It is important for us always to look to improve,” said Katie Puryear, a Communications Specialist in the Student Life office.
Patrick Bultema, the new director, hopes to take this project even further than last year with even greater growth, collaboration, and opportunities for participants to enrich and develop their innovative potential.
Looking to draw participants from all over campus, the Big Idea is offering opportunities for not only individuals with creative business ideas, but also teams looking to refine their plans from last year, and those that don’t necessarily have an idea, but wish to gain entrepreneurial experience.
Now with a yearlong agenda, the Big Idea will hold meetings every other Thursday afternoon in the Tutt Science Lecture Hall.
Another exciting adjustment is the Innovative Mind lecture series, which is set to include a Hollywood producer, a senior executive of the EA games company, other venture capitalists, as well as a half block “boot camp,” an intensive startup course.
The general consensus of those involved in the Big Idea project is that a major focus of this year’s program will be the creativity fostered from collaboration between all academic departments of the school. “Great ideas come from everywhere,” said Dan Johnson.
“The reality is the core of really good startups is innovation and creativity, and that comes from any academic discipline,” said Bultema, stressing the advantage of a liberal arts education in the field of entrepreneurship.
Although the final stages of this year’s Big Idea will stay the same ending with a public competition, the expectations for the outcome of this program have increased immensely.
“It’s one thing to have a novel, creative idea; it’s another thing to make it fly,” said Bultema, who has high hopes that this year’s program will produce ideas with the ability to become self-sustaining, successful business ventures.
With the potential to one day be an integral part of President Tiefenthaler’s plan for an Innovation Institute, Bultema, Johnson, and all those involved with the Big Idea are optimistic about this year’s changes, and have great expectations for the future of the program.
“This is just another step in the strategic theme of the college of making this theme of innovation and entrepreneurship one of the threads that is woven through the fabric of the liberal arts experience,” said Bultema.