The internationally renowned WVU LaunchLab Network is the front door to innovation, entrepreneurship, design, creative problem solving, and commercialization for all students and researchers across all campuses at WVU. Since its inaugural year in 2015, thousands of students have utilized the resources and training opportunities to help move their idea into marketable products or businesses. Offering hands-on idea development support, education, mentorship, one-one-one training, resources, pitch competitions and connections, the LaunchLab helps advance innovative entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and reach new heights. As such, in just the past two years, nearly 1,400 unique students have visited the LaunchLab while 360 new ventures have started with 210 businesses in the pipeline.
“If the LaunchLab wasn’t here, I would spend a lot of money just to ask a simple question. The LaunchLab provided me all the information, tools and resources to show me where to go,” said Ephraim Pittore, a former Statler College graduate student who invented the Banana Blaster.
Serving all clients free of charge, the LaunchLab Network strives to cultivate partners and find additional funding to support the development and growth of these innovations. Over the course of two years, some $150,000 have been received into the seed fund to support future students and researchers, while more than $177,000 has been distributed to move ideas forward for more than 105 clients.
“The LaunchLab took what I had – a small idea to sell microgreens – and fine-tuned it,” said Davis College alumnus, Jordan Masters, who founded Alleghany Genesis.
LaunchLab clients – ranging from freshman to graduate researchers to faculty and community members – also participate in local, state and national pitch competitions to help build the necessary skillsets to promote their ideas to potential investors while contending to earn more funding to support their endeavors. Some have secured thousands of dollars’ worth of startup funding and others have been invited to join incubators to accelerate the commercialization of their businesses and products.
“The LaunchLab has been super helpful with advising me on how to gain funding, prototyping, business planning and feasibility studies,” said John Chambers College of Business and Economics alumnus, Jordan Hallow, who founded SimGines.
Services, resources and personal coaching are abundant for students of all backgrounds, colleges and skillsets. Anyone looking for a collaborative working environment to be creative, problem solve and bring their ideas to life should visit the LaunchLab in Morgantown, Beckley and, coming soon, to Keyser.
Housed under the Office of the Provost, the LaunchLab Network is part of the WVU IDEA Hub, a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship in WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community.