Venture Lab, Center for Entrepreneurship merge to boost innovation

New partnership at UC to be led by Kate Harmon

Two University of Cincinnati initiatives that foster entrepreneurship have forged a new partnership to boost innovation on campus and beyond.

The UC Venture Lab, located in the 1819 Innovation Hub, and the UC Center for Entrepreneurship, housed in the Lindner College of Business, will merge into a single unit. The newly integrated team will be led by Kate Harmon, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the El and Elaine Bourgraf Director of Entrepreneurship.

“We must always be looking for ways to better support our entrepreneurs — and this integrated team enables us to do just that,” said Ryan Hays, executive vice president and chief innovation and strategy officer at UC. “Kate is a gifted leader who will take our efforts to the next level. The whole innovation ecosystem will benefit greatly from this new vision for entrepreneurship at UC.”

Kate Harmon

Kate Harmon

The integration is designed to serve UC entrepreneurs in three key ways: make it easier to get connected to the right support and resources, provide more customized programming and activities and help build a more robust ecosystem for inventors.

“At the Lindner College of Business, we empower businesspeople to tackle the world’s challenges,” said Marianne Lewis, dean and professor of management, Lindner College of Business. “The folks in the Venture Lab help innovators turn solutions into successful businesses. This collaboration is a win-win for entrepreneurs, who will benefit from seasoned leaders in both domains.”

Founded in 1997, the Center for Entrepreneurship is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. The center supports entrepreneurial education and commercialization training through curricula and co-curricular programming, funding, mentorship and connection to the wider Startup Cincy ecosystem. 

The Venture Lab, established in 2018, helps entrepreneurs from idea conception to startup launch. Through a pre-accelerator course and other offerings, the Venture Lab connects innovators at UC and beyond to knowledge, talent and resources to help launch scalable startups. The team includes UC staff, entrepreneurs-in-residence, mentors and technical experts.

“Building upon the commercialization success of the Venture Lab and the CID, this new partnership will allow us to reimagine what Entrepreneurship 2.0 might look like at UC and take our entrepreneurship and innovation efforts to the next level through a more coordinated approach of resource offerings,” said Harmon, who will add the title of assistant vice president at the 1819 Innovation Hub to her roles.

Harmon is a seasoned professional with more than 10 years of experience in higher ed entrepreneurship, working with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community entrepreneurs at Kent State, the University of Oregon and UC. She is a former small business retail owner and co-founder of a nonprofit farmers market. She has supported student- and faculty-launched startups, businesses and nonprofits from a variety of sectors.

Among her accomplishments since coming to UC, Harmon has hired the center’s first entrepreneur-in-residence to lead inclusive entrepreneurship efforts, created two new student organizations to support student-led efforts around venture investing/capital (Bearcat Ventures) and sustainability (Net Impact), established the Bearcat Student Venture Fund and assisted in the launch of nearly a dozen student ventures over the last year.

Featured image at top: UC Venture Lab space in the 1819 Innovation Hub

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