I received an email recently from a student living in the VeloCity Residence at the University of Waterloo (I believe Waterloo is the home of Research In Motion). The residence is pretty tricked out with conference rooms, a wireless device lab, and very modern minimalist design to it. Looks like a pretty cool place to be a campus entrepreneur to me. Their partners, mentors, and speakers are a pretty impressive bunch. Under projects, the site states:
VeloCity residents will have the freedom to pursue projects that they feel passionate about.
They’ll have the chance to collaborate with some of the most talented students from across campus.
They’ll have an experienced mentor who can help guide them in the right direction.
And at the end of each term, there will be a forum where they’ll have the chance to pitch their work to people who can help take things to the next level.
Unless teams decide to work on a project that is also part of their academic coursework, nothing from VeloCity will be graded or put on a transcript, so the motivation to be successful will come from within each team. It is the VeloCity residents who will have control over their workload – and progress.
With the right mix of talent, mentors, facilities, ideas and ambition, VeloCity projects have all the critical ingredients needed for success.
Peter Kao, a member of the first cohort (entered in Sept.) to participate in VeloCity has been very impressed with the technology — from the lighting to the flat screens and wii. In an email, Peter said,”What makes the place extra special is the entrepreneurial spirit everyone has and their motivation and passion for that special venture idea they want to develop.” He posts about his early move in experiences his blog.
I believe these focused dorm/vocational residences and programs may be one of the key ways for schools to teach entrepreneurship across campus. There is no reason engineers, artists, and even pre-law, biz, and med students should be augmenting their studies with practical entrepreneurial experiences. Kao believes the VeloCity is the first student incubator residence in Canada. I believe that there are a handful here in the states; I know there is a program called Dingman at the University of Maryland.