Speaker discusses, gathers input for new Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Crystal R. Albers/Lingle Guide Jack Mason, chief operating officer of the University of Wyoming’s new Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, addresses the Torrington Rotary Club at its regular meeting Monday.

TORRINGTON – There are benefits to thinking and acting like an entrepreneur, even if you never plan on starting a business, Jack Mason, chief operating officer of the University of Wyoming’s new Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said Monday at the Torrington Rotary Club meeting.

“If you think and act like an entrepreneur, (uncertain) circumstances represent opportunity,” he explained, adding the ability to handle issues better than one’s peers, through experimenting, taking risks, adapting to various situations, and being flexible, can create a competitive advantage.

Mason, a successful businessman who has personally founded multiple companies and helped establish many more, according to a UW press release, also discussed how the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship aims to create a more robust entrepreneurial ecosystem across the university and the state.

“One of the most important things … is collaboration,” he said, stating UW wants to provide support to entrepreneurs and businesses in Wyoming.

The institute’s mission is to become the “front door” of intellectual and financial resources for entrepreneurs at the university.

“We’re looking to develop a next-generation vision,” Mason said. “Graduates will face technologies, businesses, opportunities, and challenges they can’t imagine.”

UW’s approach represents a three-pronged effort, including immediate impact, longer-term strategy, and collaboration.

For immediate actions, the university intends to provide the following resources for entrepreneurs: Make it clear where to get help; provide startup advice; offer a mentoring network, support, and innovation centers; remove impediments (i.e. law students and faculty help businesses with legal questions); establish a statewide hybrid ecosystem platform (virtual interactions mixed with face-to-face); and connect and collaborate with Wyoming Business Council and others.

With an intention to redesign entrepreneurship education, Mason said longer-term goals include gathering input and information; conducting strategic-planning workshops; developing strategies; forming implementation teams and plans; executing, experimenting, piloting; learning and pivoting.

Mason then asked for attendees’ input regarding economic issues the university should be aware of and resources needed, to which the Rotary Club brought several topics to his attention, a selection of which are: broadband; a workforce that’s educated and has a work ethic; more collaboration with community colleges and the university; additional recreational infrastructure to attract people under 50; technology and manufacturing diversification; repurposing Western Sugar factory; access to venture capital; and business valuation.

For more information about the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, visit the UW website at uwyo.edu.


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