What is the Innovation Center? Why should I care?

We wanted to take the opportunity to truly introduce ourselves, the Innovation Center and the Innovation Challenge through this blog. There are a lot of moving pieces here, each one equally as important, while playing substantially different roles.

We’re going to break it down like this:

  1. What are we talking about

  2. Who are we talking about

  3. Why is this important

  4. Where is this going

Let’s do this.

What are we talking about?

Let’s start with some context about the Innovation Center as a whole. The College of Business and Economics at Regis University was formed in 2015 by mashing together 3 different programs that we had at Regis; We officially did a soft launch in 2016 with this distinct and intentionally Jesuit vision:


To help business become stewards of society with the goal of improving the quality of life on earth #Thisisregis


The Innovation Center was formed in 2016 with the mission to innovate business education by bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and the community to design solutions for the curriculum and the world.


Now, the Innovation Challenge. This is a competition for any Regis affiliated persons to present their ideas in a tactful, and goal-oriented way. The 2017/18 Innovation Challenge has 9 competing teams, all with vastly different business ideas. The final event takes place April 20th at 5 P.M. awarding the three winners with $10,000, $5,000 and $1,000, and co-working space in the Innovation Center with exclusive high-speed WIFI and communicative technology. 


Who are we talking about?

Okay, so now that we know what we’re talking about, let me introduce the man behind the Innovation Center and the execution of it all, Ken Sagendorf, Ph.D. Ken is a Professor in the College of Business and Economics and is the Director of The Innovation Center.


Yeah…but who is he?

Ken was a first gen college student from a lower middle-class family in upstate NY, with degrees in biology, exercise physiology and education.He built his own personal training business. With 20 years experience as a college educator/professor Ken came to Regis University in 2012 to be the founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. On a personal note Ken is married and has two teenage daughters. He loves to run, mountain bike, remodel his house, work on his classic pickup truck and be outdoors.


And here is why he does what does,

The Innovation Center is important to me for many reasons.  I chose this opportunity because there wasn’t a blueprint.  It hadn’t been done at Regis.  I chose to do to it because the role of the Innovation Center is to innovate the education of students in CBE and, all students at Regis.  I chose to do this (and what the Innovation Center is trying to accomplish) to help students become ready for the work world after school (Ken Sagendorf). 


Why is this important?

We know what this is, who is behind it, but why should you care?

Our intent is to bring pragmatic reality into play with the idealism that students seek.  But here is the kicker, unlike other programs on campus, The Innovation Center is not a provider to students.  It is here to be a partner. The goals here are strategic and tactical. Hoping to provide real life results this new resource.

The Innovation Center wants to help our students realize the strength of the CBE faculty and their student peers.  We need the adult and non-traditional students to come to campus to participate in our activities and we need the traditional students to realize that they are only a small part of our student body.  We have to help each other connect with one another and affect one another. The Innovation Center hopes to be the catalyst. This is the ideal place to apply what you learn in business classes by building the infrastructure for a whopper of a co-curriculum - running and working in businesses.


Where is this going?

There are a couple concrete things to see soon.

  1. First, the Innovation Challenge is the only student-run business competition in the front range. We hope to raise some attention this inaugural year so that it can have bigger support for student business ideas. We hope that some of the businesses in the Challenge this year are up and running successfully after this summer; To have sponsorship in the next couple of years and really make this a competitive event.  And that the businesses that get started come back and reinvest in the business education of the students behind them. 

  2. Students realize that the Gronowski Innovation Incubator has the fastest internet and most comfortable furniture on campus and they start hanging out there to do homework.  Goal is 20 students hanging out most of the time.

  3. Co-work space in CBE. We hope that we have four offices full of local businesses running out of the Innovation Incubator co-work spaces.

  4. Business laboratories.  This is the one that excites us the most. The Innovation Center is trying to get students to start-up and run businesses while in school. In the next five years, we predict we will have 2-3 operational businesses that our CBE students run during their time in school. Management and MBA students run operations, marketing students develop clients, accounting students do the books – everything that we teach in CBE can be applied in most of these businesses.  Best of all, once we get these businesses seeded, we seek for breakeven and then any profits go directly back into students through scholarships, seed funding, etc.

  5. Alumni Matrix – this is our alumni companionship program named after the movie, The Matrix.  In the next five years, I hope that our alumni are around for more than just special events and personal invites to class but that they see their continuing involvement in students’ education as beneficial to themselves. 


There’s your what, who, why, and where but most importantly its critical to understand this.


The university doesn’t pay for the Innovation Center, it is funded by an endowment dedicated to business education and free enterprise.  But yet, it is specifically for students…AKA if you don’t participate, programs like this go away.


So, come one come all. Bring your friends, bring your brains and let’s get to work!