The center of innovation Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2007

For many college students, classroom lessons lack substantial application in the real world. However, at Baldwin-Wallace College, innovative thinking is allowing undergraduates to use their newfound knowledge outside the lecture halls.

Under the guidance of Peter Rea, Burton D. Morgan Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies, the college’s Center for Innovation and Growth allows passionate students to apply their talents to regional economic development.

“Course work is foundational,” Rea says. “Ultimately, you have to learn innovation by doing it.”

The idea for the center emerged in 2005, when Rea and other faculty members created a speaker series highlighting the fundamentals of strong business leadership. The series’ success spurred an umbrella organization whose goal was to foster innovation and growth campuswide and beyond.

Founded in March 2006, CIG has since participated in numerous projects designed to cultivate economic prosperity in Northeast Ohio.

“The region’s in need of talent that’s innovative,” Rea says. “[It] needs some help in taking on projects surrounding economic development.”

In one endeavor, students and faculty are helping seven communities consolidate their fire and emergency medical services into one efficient and cost-effective fire district.

For students whose interests lie beyond the realm of municipal development, the center also oversees the Baldwin-Wallace College Business Clinic. With the assistance of executive volunteers, students help entrepreneurs and small businesses design more than 100 business plans each year.

In addition to his work at the college, Rea has facilitated international partnerships between B-W, as well as other universities, and corporations in countries including China, Japan, Germany, England and Brazil.

“[Innovation will] determine the prosperity of the country, community or company,” Rea says, citing one of the conclusions of the World Economic Forum of 2006. “There is now a global hunt on for innovators.”

HOW TO REACH: Baldwin-Wallace College, (440) 826-2900 or www.bw.edu