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Venture & Innovation Center (VIC) at St. John’s University

Overview of the Venture & Innovation Center

The Venture & Innovation Center (VIC) at St. John’s University is a visionary project that aims to foster a culture of collaboration and entrepreneurship and provide significant support to new ideas and businesses. In short, we seek to create the right conditions where innovation and business creation flourishes.

The VIC aims to provide an ecosystem of resources for aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs. It will offer a range of services and programs, such as

  • Advisory Support

  • Events
  • Mentoring

  • Program Support
  • Investment

In today’s fast-moving world, there is an ever-increasing need for all universities to provide both depth and breadth in their educational offerings. While we provide a wide range of challenging academic courses, we also want to foster independence and give our students experiential learning opportunities that help them to develop universal skills such as problem solving, project management, communications, and relationship building.

We also want to enhance the support that we provide to our faculty, staff, alumni (stakeholders), and in some cases, the local community, especially in relation to innovation management and tech transfer. Where our stakeholders are creating world-leading ideas, we want to help them create successful companies.

We believe that our new VIC will help us to achieve this goal, and that it will also be an important catalyst for a wider transformation in our approach to interdisciplinary and intercollegiate collaboration.

There are three strategic focuses for the VIC

Collaboration

To enhance intercollegiate collaboration at St. John’s focused on innovation and ventures

Entrepreneurial Culture

To transform our entrepreneurial culture as an institution

Idea and Venture Support

To fill the void created by the (pent-up) demand among our stakeholders for idea and venture support.

The VIC has two distinctive (but integrated) parts from which activities that support the above will flow: a “Connect” element (i.e., a cross-campus information and connections hub) and an “Incubate” element (i.e., a support system for stakeholder ideas and businesses). Here is a more in-depth look:

Collaboration

The St. John’s University Schools and Colleges offer a range of impressive resources that serve our students and faculty and enable us to offer a broad variety of cutting-edge programs. The ecosystem of resources and programs spread across the Schools and Colleges includes the James and Eileen Christmas Business Plan Competition and Pitch Event; Pitch Johnny; Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs program; Design Factory, Executive-in-Residence Program, and a Television, Film, and Radio Center

However, despite our best efforts, our collegiate organizational structure can make it programmatically difficult for us to share these resources between Schools and Colleges and across the campus and to raise awareness about their existence, especially among new students and faculty. The VIC is designed to address this deficiency, and more.

Amongst other things, the VIC will be an information hub that serves as a connecting place for stakeholders from across the Schools and Colleges to talk about their business ideas, to collaborate, and to become better informed about the full scope of resources available on campus.

We want to facilitate creative collisions between those with ideas and those who seek to set up businesses, and we also want to direct stakeholders toward the rich variety of resources on campus so that they can move their projects forward more quickly. We are also expecting the VIC to be a catalyst to foster deeper connections with the wider community that includes local government, businesses, and alumni.

Entrepreneurial Culture

Within the VIC, we will offer a suite of services that help budding entrepreneurs with their foundational business skills (e.g., understanding financial statements, communications and networking, sales and marketing, problem solving, and strategic thinking).

We will also have events aimed at driving foot traffic into the center. We envisage sponsoring competitions (including a cross-campus business simulation); a speaker series; hackathons; lunch-and-learn sessions during the week; and start-up weekends.

Finally, stakeholders will be able to drop in to the fully staffed VIC during certain times of the day where they can ask for advice, share their business ideas, and be connected to the right resources.

Idea and Venture Support

Core to the support provided by the VIC is the identification, management, and commercialization of research-based innovation results and innovative ideas generated by stakeholders. The center will establish and manage the St. John`s innovation portfolio and provide expert services related to innovation management including business development, intellectual property rights, start-ups, and marketing. 

The VIC aims to establish programs to support prototyping, testing, proof-of-concept, and business development activities to elevate the readiness level of the concepts incubated and to derisk the commercialization process. The programs currently under development are

  • Discovery: provides support for concept development, feasibility assessment, intellectual property assessment and protection, business opportunity analyses, prototyping, and experimental validation. 

  • Proof-of-Concept: provides more substantial project funding to validate the innovation via proof of concept, piloting, and demonstration, and to validate the commercial strategy. This program may facilitate the interaction with industry and investors and the building of networks.

The VIC seeks funding and active contribution from interested parties who would like to support this unprecedented opportunity at St. John`s University.

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Albert Bateh ’16TCB, a graduate of The Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University, is a noteworthy alumnus renowned for his inspiring journey in entrepreneurship development. Born into a family running a flourishing textile business for over a century, Mr. Bateh grew up with a strong interest in the field. During his senior year at the University, he launched his first venture, EZ-Net Hair Care, which began his successful entrepreneurial journey.

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