StartUp Winona State logoWinona State University has launched a new entrepreneurial opportunity, StartUp Winona State, with the singular goal to “create an ecosystem/culture on campus and surrounding community that helps people move forward and create their dreams.”

On campus specifically, StartUp Winona State seeks to help students of all majors by creating a broad, entrepreneurial network. The program builds on the former WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge program, initiated by the WSU Foundation in 2016.

The new version of the program is directed by Will Kitchen, who describes StartUp Winona State as “morphing from the Challenge, helping students/community members/alumni discover what they really want to do and then determining what skills and resources they need and formulate a plan to get them.” Kitchen welcomes entrepreneurs with a dream, a burning idea, or a creative solution to a critical issue, offering a free consultation to brainstorm networking opportunities and formulation of a viable new initiative.

Services offered by StartUp Winona State include free consultation, local and international networking opportunities, potential access to grant funding resources, and the opportunity to participate in this spring’s WinStart Challenge. As the first step of the Challenge, WSU, Saint Mary’s University, and Minnesota State College Southeast will hold an idea fair on Jan. 27, 2020, along with the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce and Engage Winona, to identify potential “problems” for which students will create solutions. During January, February, and March, inter-collaborative teams will then develop ideas to be “pitched” to an expert panel on April 6. The public is welcome to attend both events.

Additionally, on April 4, 2020, StartUp Winona State has been invited to participate in the Assistive Technology Competition sponsored by Mayo Clinic/Destination Medical Center, where “teams will form to develop ideas and products to seek solutions that facilitate greater independence for people with disabilities” and potentially receive scholarships as a result of their work.

Aside from these challenges, a few initiatives currently being developed through StartUp Winona State include an online marketplace connecting adventure seekers to available adventures, a non-profit providing socks for the homeless, and a project connecting independently living seniors with WSU students to work on removing physical barriers so “people of any ability have the opportunity to experience physical activities, such as ascending a climbing wall.” Kitchen cites these as prime examples of the vision of StartUp Winona State, “connecting all of the creative people in order to find solutions.”

Future hopes for StartUp Winona State include integration into classrooms/curriculum and capstones, which will provide high levels of real-world, applied learning opportunities that result in high levels of student engagement. Kitchen hopes all budding entrepreneurs across campus and community will take advantage of the services provided by StartUp Winona State.

Learn more about StartUp Winona State and upcoming events by visiting winona.edu/startup/.

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