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NC State’s New Entrepreneurship Garage: Primed for Innovation

NC State’s commitment to supporting Thinkers and Doers developing an entrepreneurial mindset has led to the establishment of a new co-working and prototyping space on Centennial Campus. The Entrepreneurship Garage, previously tucked away in the Wolf Ridge Apartments, has moved into a space specifically designed for students to work side-by-side with real-world entrepreneurs in HQ Raleigh’s Centennial Campus location.

Walking into the Entrepreneurship Garage within HQ@Centennial, visitors are greeted by a gaping high-bay area with a cafe and several co-working nooks. The floor-to-ceiling windows flood the interior with natural light while globe bulbs float over the bar, accenting the industrial aesthetic with their delicate glow. HQ@Centennial and the Entrepreneurship Garage host a 50-person classroom, multiple conference rooms, phone booths and a full-blown prototyping lab—complete with 3D printers, laser cutters, a ShopBot and more. The cafe area, high-bay commons and upstairs mezzanine provide spacious work stations for Garage members and HQ members to co-work and collaborate.

T H E   V I S I O N

[pullquote color=’indigo’ align=’right’]The idea of our students ‘rubbing elbows’ on a daily basis with ‘real-world’ entrepreneurs was a core part of the dream.[/pullquote]The 23,000 square-foot workspace hosts NC State students, HQ member companies and coworkers as well as NC State staff who create experiential learning opportunities for students interested in entrepreneurship. With posting boards for connecting students and HQ members, open co-working areas and communal programming opportunities, the Entrepreneurship Garage is primed for connecting like-minded innovators of all industries. Senior Vice Provost of Academic Outreach and Entrepreneurship Dr. Tom Miller explained, “The vision for the Garage is and has always been to create a ‘safe sandbox’ where all NC State students can learn about entrepreneurship in a learn-by-doing context.  Ten years ago, when a small group of us envisioned the Garage, the idea of our students ‘rubbing elbows’ on a daily basis with ‘real-world’ entrepreneurs was a core part of the dream. The partnership with HQ makes that dream a reality.”

T H E   G A R A G E

The Entrepreneurship Garage is NC State’s venture creation and prototyping program, giving NC State students spaces to work in as well as workshops, speaker series and other programmatic offerings to help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Haley Huie, director of experiential learning for NC State Entrepreneurship, noted that the Garage expansion is more than just increased square footage. “We’ve rolled out new event series, upgraded and increased the tools and equipment available for use and rental, and worked to grow the already stellar resources available to our students,” she remarked. In addition to in-house programming, the Garage serves as the central hub for entrepreneurship at NC State and is used by units from across campus to host entrepreneurship events and offerings. Housed within the Office of the Provost, the Entrepreneurship Garage serves students from every college, focusing efforts on curating campus-wide, experiential entrepreneurship education to compliment in-class offerings.

While many events in the space are open to all, NC State students are encouraged to become Garage members, which grants them 24/7 card access as well as access to the prototyping equipment and rental audio/video equipment. All degree-seeking NC State students are eligible to apply for membership and can become full-fledged members immediately after completing the application and attending an orientation session. In a given year, the Garage typically has about 700 student members. Some students use the equipment to prototype products; others book conference rooms to meet with potential co-founders; others join the space simply to become immersed in the culture of entrepreneurship found through co-working and attending community events.

Over the years, the Garage has seen a plethora of successful ventures emerge from the program and go on to contribute to local and global economies, taking the Think and Do spirit into a variety of industries. To name a few—NC State entrepreneurs who started as members of the Entrepreneurship Garage include Leigh-Kathryn of Bee Downtown, Thad Tarkington and Kevin Barry of FilterEasy(now Second Nature), Emily Neville of Reborn Clothing Co., Steven Guido and Zachary Fearnside of Aeva Labs.

T H E   P A R T N E R S H I P

A key component to the increased resources and connectivity at the new Entrepreneurship Garage is its strategic location inside HQ@Centennial. HQ Raleigh’s Centennial Campus location is one of four local campuses created by the co-working hub. Founding partner and CEO Jason Widen commented that HQ Raleigh was originally drawn to NC State’s campus because of “the opportunity to build a collaborative learning and working environment whereby we connect  students and faculty to HQ’s 400 member companies and partner organizations.” Like other HQ campuses, HQ Centennial gives members access to the co-working spaces, two kitchens, a cafe area with free coffee daily, reservable conference rooms and more. With the Entrepreneurship Garage’s strategic co-location inside HQ@Centennial, NC State students have access to the same amenities available to HQ members—all they have to do is become a Garage member!

The grand opening of HQ@Centennial and the Entrepreneurship Garage on Thursday, August 29 hosted over 500 guests excited to explore the new space. Creating collaborative spaces is more than just building a workspace to explore—it’s building a community teeming with resources. Widen explains, “Our collaboration will focus on three main areas: creating a dynamic learning and working environment, connecting students to job opportunities, and creating a hub of entrepreneurial activity on campus.”

[pullquote color=’green’ align=’left’]The very best new ideas come when we have students with different backgrounds, knowledge and skills teaming up together.[/pullquote]In addition to the strategic programming and resources offered by HQ Raleigh and NC State, the co-location promotes collaboration between students and startups through what Dr. Miller described as “beneficial collisions—chance encounters that stimulate conversations leading to new ideas and innovations.” The accessibility of the space, right by Hunt Library, brings students from all backgrounds through the doors and into a community stacked with serial entrepreneurs and experienced innovators. Dr. Miller continued, “the very best new ideas come when we break down the disciplinary silos and have students with different backgrounds, knowledge and skills teaming up together.” The partnership with HQ Raleigh on Centennial Campus expands the entrepreneurship community and breaks down barriers, not only between students of different disciplines, but also between students and industry professionals, opening the door to even more beneficial collisions.

G E T    I N V O L V E D

Students who are looking to get plugged in to entrepreneurship at NC State can sign up for the weekly newsletter and/or attend Start Here Monday, a weekly meet-up hosted by the Entrepreneurship Ambassadors in the Entrepreneurship Garage. Start Here Monday is for current Garage members as well as non-members and requires no prior registration!

Faculty and staff  looking to connect with the NC State Entrepreneurship team or learn more about how they can use the space to host entrepreneurial offerings can email with questions.

Community members interested in getting involved with the Entrepreneurship Garage can sign up for the monthly newsletter and check the website calendar for upcoming events to attend.

Follow NC State Entrepreneurship on Social Media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn


Contact: Erin Muir | | 919.515.9479

Photo Credit: Brantley Atkinson; George England.


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