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James Madison University’s vision is to be the lean university startup model to effectively commercialize innovations by educating and engaging students, alumni and community in launching sustainable businesses in the Shenandoah Valley.  We are building capacity for education programs in innovation and entrepreneurship through a new initiative focused on Innovation-Collaboration-Entrepreneurship (ICE).  A cooperative alliance between the College of Business’ Center for Entrepreneurship, JMU Technology Innovation and4-VA, is creating a pipeline for educating students in innovation and entrepreneurship as well as nurturing technologies on the commercialization pathway.  As we move to newly renovated downtown warehouse space in January 2014 with furniture designed and built by JMU’s Industrial Design students, we are putting this strategy into action.

ICE @ JMU creates an iterative learning experience putting classroom learning into action. The College of Business Venture Creation class, open to all students across the university, guides student teams through the process of building business plans for an end of semester competition. Business ideas come from students or JMU disclosed intellectual property (IP).  Students learn about intellectual property protection and how to use patents as a research tool to assess the competitive landscape. These business plans become the basis for building viable startup companies launched through James Madison Innovations (JMI), the non-profit organization affiliated with JMU to manage and commercialize intellectual property. 

These companies launch in the ICE Venture Accelerator providing student participants real-life experience in building and working in a startup under the leadership of an experienced entrepreneur, through the Entrepreneurs- in-Residence program. ICE has a “maker space” with prototyping equipment and 3-D printers funded by a 4-VA grant to develop innovations using cutting edge technology, allowing teams of entrepreneurs to collaborate internally as well as externally with colleagues at other schools in Virginia and beyond. Accelerating viable innovations and startups in the Shenandoah Valley region is vital to the university community and the region within which we engage and co-exist. Converging strengths within JMU and our local business community in conjunction with nearby regions, has the advantage of scale to build a more vital and expansive innovation economy in Shenandoah Valley.