For many young entrepreneurs, the challenge of turning an idea into a reality is connecting multiple skillsets across industries.
A college graduate with a background in business, for example, may not have the same skills as an engineer or computer scientist.
Connecting students with expertise in different fields in an effort to grow innovation is the goal of a new extracurricular club at the University at Buffalo, called Inve[n|s]tUB, led by a UB computer science professor with a business background in Western New York.
In its early stages, the club has yet to establish formal meeting times. They’re still trying to measure interest and develop a cohesive program before launching, UB Department of Computer Science and Engineering Professor of Practice Alan Hunt said.
“The focus is to take people who want to build something, and put them together with people who might know what to do next, or guide them through the things you have to worry about, from legal, regulatory, copywriting to programming and management,” Hunt said.
Inve[n|s]tUB is currently open to UB students, faculty, and staff, but Hunt says down the road it may be available to students from other universities. And they’re always looking for mentors and partners across sectors in the Buffalo business community. The challenge is not to dilute the mission of the club, nor to pull students away from other business-related clubs on campus. Hunt said Inve[n|s]tUB is trying to do something on campus that’s independent of other similar programs, with support from programs like UB’s Blackstone Launchpad chapter.
The club is open to students in any UB program “looking to learn, brainstorm, and build” an innovative business project or idea. Hunt suggests, for example, a nonprofit that seeks to use demographic data to better address an idea. Connecting a computer scientist who can build a functional app with an engineer who can manipulate data and a business student who can establish an operating plan can be the difference in getting an idea off the ground.
And, hopefully, the collaborative projects built through Inve[n|s]tUB will give undergraduates projects for their portfolios that prepare them for more than just entry-level positions in industry.
Hunt, a graduate of the computer science and engineering department at the University at Buffalo, has been working in industry for 20 years. He said students have begun to reach out to express interest in the club, but he hopes not to spread the club’s goals too far, at least initially.
Interested University at Buffalo students, faculty, and staff can find out more information at http://invenst.cse.buffalo.edu/index.html or email Hunt at [email protected] Inve[n|s]t UB's kickoff meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 5-6:30 p.m. in 113A Davis Hall.