Southeast Missouri State University, Donald L. Harrison College of Business
Catapult Creative House
Catapult Creative House cultivates innovation and entrepreneurship by connecting interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty, and practitioners through a rich array of courses, collaborative projects, and competitions, and a commercial learning laboratory that immerses students in the creative entrepreneurship process.
Call to Action
By 2005, entrepreneurship programming in the Harrison College of Business had expanded from a workshop taught over the summer term to (1) a minor in entrepreneurship available to business students and (2) an option in entrepreneurship available to students majoring in management. Given the growth in interest and focus of business students, the Harrison College recognized the need for more. With leadership provided by the director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a center was established to promote entrepreneurial studies. With a change in leadership for the center came a vision to expand entrepreneurial programing beyond the Harrison College of Business.
Coincidentally, a benefactor emerged with this same interest and through his generosity. In collaboration with faculty from six academic departments across campus, the Harrison College of Business established focused entrepreneurship minors in agriculture/horticulture, biological/medical, fine arts, fashion, health management, and industrial/engineering technology, along with a substantial number of scholarships to support students pursuing these specialized minors.
A desire to have dedicated space to support any student wishing to develop an entrepreneurial mindset was a part of this vision. This component of the vision became a reality when a second benefactor emerged with an interest in supporting students across campus who wished to experience the process of taking an idea to prototype and to commercialization.
Through this benefactor’s generosity, and substantial institutional support, the Harrison College of Business was able to establish the multidisciplinary CATAPULT Creative House under the Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Today, our campus-wide entrepreneurship initiative has been identified as one of six institutional Pillar Programs.
Catapult Creative House is dedicated to the promotion and encouragement of student collaboration, creativity, innovation, and commercialization. Catapult is available to any student on campus wishing to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. In this space, students are facilitated in the process of transforming a concept into a tangible product or viable service, creating a business model, and gaining valuable experience in retailing products and services through a sustainable business model leading to commercialization. Possibilities for creativity/innovation have included app development, prototyping, creating unique apparel, visioning interior design, making art, and campus competitions.
Catapult provides business consulting services using business students and faculty. The integration of the creative and business planning processes is possible due to the interdisciplinary composition of affiliate faculty mentors. Affiliated faculty are drawn from art, engineering technology, entrepreneurship, fashion merchandising, hospitality management, interior design, management, and marketing. Collaboration space encourages and supports cross-pollination of ideas and experiences among students and faculty mentors.
Catapult offers students a wide variety of technologies, specialized software, photographic and multimedia capabilities, two-dimension art space, specialized equipment promoting student creativity in fashion and interior design, and historically important letterpresses. Commercialization is supported by Fuel, a full-service student-operated food and beverage bar, along with The Shoppe, a retail space, providing students with the opportunity to innovate, produce, and market various products in Catapult. The Catapult Gallery is a commercial venue showcasing two- and three-dimensional art made by Southeast students, faculty, graduates, and external art community members, some of which is created on site.
The strategic objective of Catapult is extension of entrepreneurial thinking across academic programming by (1) eliminating barriers separating disciplines, departments, and colleges, and (2) unleashing creative synergies by providing an environment that encourages collaboration among students, faculty mentors, and practicing entrepreneurs.
Initial impact was demonstrated by the collaboration among 16 faculty members representing eight disciplines in reaching consensus about the physical and interior design of Catapult’s environment, their integration of Catapult into their curriculum, and their subsequent work as an Operations Committee. Additional impact was demonstrated by the hundreds of students who benefited from Catapult’s creative environment and programming over its first year, the development of Catapult policies and procedures by the Operations Committee, and the growth of the Fault-Line Film Festival, the first cross-disciplinary and open-campus competition under the new vision for entrepreneurship, and the establishment of an annual Innovation Challenge Competition.
Emerging impact is demonstrated by the quality of the practicing entrepreneurs scheduled for the first Annual Catapult Guest Artist/Entrepreneur Speaker Series, the special workshops and exhibits planned for Catapult’s second year, the first annual and outreach to connect with St. Louis’s entrepreneurial community (e.g., The Inventors Association of St. Louis). Future tracking will include the number of events held/sponsored, student attendance or participation, growth in the number of faculty affiliates, the expansion of academic programming, and Catapult’s space utilization. More direct measures will include the number of student commercial ventures, enrollments in entrepreneurship programs, and the number of graduates from these programs.