February 21, 2023

Hampden-Sydney College Compass course in innovation builds excitement in anticipation of the fall 2023 opening of the Farmville SEED Innovation Hub.

Dr. King giving a lecture in a classroom with H-SC logo in backgroundWith new resources and instructional opportunities, the future of innovation and entrepreneurship at H-SC is looking bright.

Through the Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Hampden-Sydney students have access to valuable resources that can push them to become innovators or entrepreneurs. In the near future, students will have access to even more resources like programming, state-of-the-art technology, and experienced entrepreneurs when the Farmville SEED Innovation Hub opens in downtown Farmville.

Launched in partnership with Hampden-Sydney and Longwood University, the Hub will focus on fostering business development within the greater Farmville community when it opens at the end of 2023. "I am really excited for our students to interact with innovators and entrepreneurs from the community," says Flemming Center Director Andrew King. "The Hub will create a nexus of activity and offer supplemental resources to what students already have access to on the Hill."

Farmville residents and students from Hampden-Sydney, Longwood University, and Southside Community College will be able to network, experiment with business ideas, participate in innovation courses, entrepreneurial boot camps, and pitch competitions, and access state-of-the-art technology like 3-D printers. Programming will include professional development, leadership development, workshops and camps for technology and STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math—and courses on innovation and entrepreneurship taught by both Hampden-Sydney and Longwood faculty.

Dr. King currently co-teaches Farmville LaunchPad: Innovation Prototype Accelerator (BUSN 285) in partnership with Longwood University Honors Faculty Scholar Jacob Dolence. "Both institutions have unique strengths, and by combining classes, we have the opportunity to create a rich experience full of resources," King says.

The course encourages students to incorporate principles of STEAM education with knowledge gained from the art of innovation and entrepreneurial management to create a prototype, analyze problems and solutions, and experiment with real-world implementation. "My goal for the Accelerator course is to help students learn how to take an idea and turn it into a viable solution," says King. "I want each student to learn the process of rapid prototyping and to begin to turn what they have into reality."

I am really excited for our students to interact with innovators and entrepreneurs from the community. The Hub will create a nexus of activity and offer supplemental resources to what students already have access to on the Hill.

Andrew King, Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Director

Students cooperating to balance a metal rod on their fingersThe Accelerator course is a part of the Compass Program, Hampden-Sydney’s experiential learning program. A graduation prerequisite, Compass requires students to take at least three experiential learning courses with one being an off-campus experience, such as an internship or study abroad program. "The goal of the Compass Program is to help students engage in experiential education," says Elliot Professor of English and Assistant Dean of Faculty Sarah Hardy. "We want to give students multiple opportunities for active learning and reflection and the chance to approach their college experiences with intention."

"The wonderful thing about the Accelerator course is the strong overlap between innovation in the world of business and experiential learning," Hardy continues. "Students are afforded the chance of trial and error and can evaluate problems to find a plausible solution." The off-campus component of the course affords them with these chances, all while encouraging students to embrace the mindsets of entrepreneurs and innovators. Students get to practice bringing a service or product to the market through community interactions, marketing pitches, prototyping, and feedback, thus increasing their understanding of the marketplace in which they are operating and ability to communicate their ideas.

King expanded on Hardy's sentiments, saying, "The students are creating an experience for themselves and are becoming more experientially intelligent. They have the ambition to start businesses and take on new adventures, all while reflecting on what they have done." Based on their ambition, students can create milestones that they can work towards with the benefit of trial and error.

And with the opening of the Hub, entrepreneurial H-SC students will have access to a powerful mix of experts, innovators, entrepreneurs, and institutions that will give them a significant step up in launching their futures.

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