By Lauren D’Ambra
If you’ve walked past the corner of Washington and 18th Street lately, you’ve probably seen that a big construction project is beginning to get underway. It may not look like much now, but the empty lot will soon be transformed into the brand new Mines Venture Center, a place for Mines students, faculty, and alumni to come together and learn skills related to creating sustainable commercial enterprises.
Back in February of 2020, Mines received a generous gift of 4.5 million in challenge funds from the parents of two Colorado School of Mines graduates. The donors, Mike and Kelly Beck, gifted the funds in hopes of attracting other potential donors to the project. Since then, the Mines Venture has gained traction in both creating their future home and getting a head start on creating a welcoming and productive environment for the Mines community.
The Venture Center hasn’t let the lack of a building stop them from working on their various projects. They are currently set up at a temporary location inside 1600 Jackson, and are working hard to ensure that Mines’s entrepreneurial students have a place to come together. The Venture Center’s temporary location has many of the facilities the official center will have: conference rooms, office spaces, and a Zoom room. The temporary location is also staffed with mentors and advisors to help any members of the Mines community start up their dream company.
When asked about what sort of programs and opportunities the venture center has to offer, Werner Kuhr, the director of the Mines Venture Center, replied that “the Venture Center is a functioning business incubator, where we have put together the resources that a new startup can use to start their own business once they have defined the problem that they want to solve.” The Mines Venture Center aims to provide a number of beneficial business opportunities such as advice from experts (think marketing experts, tax advisors, individuals in finance professions, lawyers, etc) and numerous chances to participate in networking. Most importantly, the Venture Center will be a place for like minded individuals to come together and grow in a friendly and collaborative space.
The Mines venture Center will also be the new home of Innov8x. This ongoing and developing program gives Mines student’s the opportunity to tackle open ended problems suggested by the government, industry, or non-profit organizations. Innov8x participants have been allowed to work on solving all sorts of practical problems, such as repurposing materials for sustainable home construction, identifying big contributors to Denver’s air pollution problem, and finding ways to supply individuals with power within 72 hours of a disaster. Most recently, the course has been tasked with coming up with ingenuitive ways to provide low income individuals who lost their homes in a natural disaster with housing. All in all, the course allows for students to attempt solving real world problems, all while preparing them to be ready for anything.
The Mines Venture Center is currently slated for completion in Fall of 2023. Don’t worry, if any of the above sounds like something you would love to take part in, you can always drop by the center’s temporary location in 1600 Jackson, or enroll in Innov8x’s project-based, lab/studio, or study abroad course. Be sure to check out all of the incredible work the Mines Venture Center is currently doing and keep an eye out for their work in the future!