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By Eller College

Corporate leaders know the directive: innovate or die. But everything from inertia to existing workplace culture can impede innovation within a firm.

“Managers are wary of bringing in workers with entrepreneurial skill sets,” says McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship director Sherry Hoskinson. “The perception is that the company will invest in these workers, who will soak up industry knowledge and leave to start their own companies.”

To address these issues, the McGuire Center has launched the Center for Corporate Entrepreneurship and New Venturing. “The idea is not just to reconcile the infusion of entrepreneurship in existing firms, but to capitalize on it in these early days of the open innovation movement,” explains Hoskinson.

Corporate entrepreneurship is a broad concept that includes the generation, development, and implementation of new ideas, behaviors, products, services, systems, plans, and programs within existing organizations.

Teams in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program have taken on corporate projects in the past, for example, investigating new market opportunities for technologies developed by Honeywell and Raytheon. The new center formalizes these activities and expands with a menu of customizable offerings for firms, which will be managed by Entrepreneurship Program mentor Jim Jindrick.

“We’re planning to offer classroom courses, distance learning seminars, open-innovation projects that connect UA students with established corporate partners, and joint-venture, closed innovation projects with corporations where intellectual property is closely guarded,” says Jindrick. “We’re envisioning an a la carte menu for client corporations that will allow them to pick and choose custom programs to fit their specific educational requirements.”