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Scripps Innovation Challenge kickoff focuses on entrepreneurship

Feb 18, 2014

Scripps Innovation Challenge kickoff panelists Doug Mitchell, William Crowder and Andy Alexander discuss entrepreneurship on Feb. 11.

Scripps Innovation Challenge kickoff focuses on entrepreneurship
Teams, individuals must register by Feb. 28

By Kerry Tuttle

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 18, 2014)—The Scripps Innovation Challenge officially launched on Feb. 11 at its kickoff event, which featured a panel of professionals who spoke on the topic of understanding the media innovation space.

The kickoff was moderated by Associate Dean for Innovation, Research and Graduate Studies Michelle Ferrier and aimed to bring together students, staff and professionals to help build what will be the future of communication in the United States.

The first panelist was Doug Mitchell, co-director of NewU Incubator and project manager for National Public Radio (NPR), who spoke about the “media entrepreneurship ecosystem.” He examined how nonprofit professional organizations and public media, such as NPR, are adapting to the new news ecology. Between Mitchell’s work with the station and his work with NewU Incubator, a Ford Foundation funded startup program for media professionals of color, he is in the middle of the changing media ecosystem.

“I’m uniquely positioned to identify the future media and future media entrepreneurs, and direct them where they need to go,” said Mitchell.

William Crowder, a venture advisor for the Catalyst Fund and managing partner of Comcast DreamIt Ventures, also shared his knowledge about the changing media landscape and how entrepreneurs play a role.

“There’s a mindset around being an entrepreneur,” Crowder said to the room full of students. “There’s an element of fear and an element of uncertainty. From an investor standpoint, that’s the risk, but it’s also the essence of entrepreneurship.”

For participating students who will have an entrepreneurial mindset for the duration of the Scripps Innovation Challenge, Crowder’s message came through loud and clear.

“It obviously sounds like it’s going to be an intense, but rewarding experience,” said junior Mary Johann, a communication studies major. “It’s been great to hear from professionals whose job it is to give advice to entrepreneurs and start-up companies because it directly relates to the innovation challenge.”

Crowder’s final advice at the kickoff seemed simple, yet he called his key points “critical elements” of entrepreneurship. “Be authentic. Whatever the problem is you’re solving, you have to have some type of personal connection to it. Be bold – with both your goals and your ideas. Get smart. You have to know what you’re talking about, plain and simple.”

The speaker series is a new addition to the Scripps Innovation Challenge. Andy Alexander, a visiting professional in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and contest coordinator, described this year’s contest as “bigger and better” due to the additional programming for contestants and increased prize money.  Alexander said that “past contestants say this is the best learning experience they’ve had while at Ohio University.”

The Scripps Innovation Challenge grew out of an endowment from the Scripps Howard Foundation and is a contest in which students innovate solutions to actual challenges from the media industry. Teams or individuals must register by Feb. 28 to compete. It is open to all Ohio University students and will award $25,000 in prizes.

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