Whitaker Laboratory is home to the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship. The Baker Institute created the Hatchery Program, a 12-week internship for Lehigh students to work with staff and peers in entrepreneurial ventures of their own interests. (Kate Morrell/B&W Staff)

The Hatchery summer program to explore applications of entrepreneurship

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The Hatchery Student Idea Accelerator, an immersive 12-week entrepreneurship experience that will launch this summer, encourages students from all disciplines to develop their problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills.

The program is designed to give students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty on projects pertaining to specific areas of interest outside of entrepreneurship, to which they can apply entrepreneurial methods.

The Hatchery houses five tracks, called “nests,” which offer students tailored experiences in specific fields of interest, such as healthcare technology, community engagement and sustainability.

This program is a reimagination of the LaunchBayC summer program, which has been offered by the Baker Institute since 2014. Though LaunchBayC will remain a program within the Hatchery’s venture nest, the other nests offer additional opportunities.

“I felt that the Hatchery was a more welcoming, open opportunity for students who may already have thought that LaunchBayC was not for them,” said Lisa Getzler, the executive director of the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship. “We want to be as inviting to other disciplines and topics as possible.”

Lehigh faculty with expertise in each field of interest will lead the nests.

Bill Best, a professor of practice in mechanical engineering, will co-lead the healthcare nest, in which students will work on projects potentially focused on topics such as aging, technology and the hospital room of the future.

“This is the beauty of the Hatchery idea: it will allow students to investigate on their own — with us, without us — a project of their interest, not knowing what the end result is going to be,” Best said. “We don’t want students to enter the Hatchery knowing the solution already.”

The Hatchery hopes to attract students with drive to pursue their interests but don’t necessarily have backgrounds in entrepreneurship.

Innovator-in-residence Chris Kauzmann said after years of reviewing student applications, listening to interviews and watching students participate in LaunchBayC, he has narrowed down the two most important qualities he looks for in applicants.

“I look for students who are passionate about something,” Kauzmann said. “I don’t particularly care what you’re passionate about, I just want you to care about something. And I want you to have some demonstration of self-motivation.”

Passion and motivation, together, are what Kauzmann believes drive the success of students who participate in programs like LaunchBayC and the Hatchery.

Kauzmann will be leading the venture nest, which now houses the LaunchBayC program.

A major change to the program, however, is that LaunchBayC will now offer students the opportunity to earn nine credits over the summer to count toward an entrepreneurship minor. Kauzmann said this is the first time LaunchBayC will be offered for credit, but the transition should be as seamless as possible.

“Although we are switching to credits and we think this is a very good thing, it should not feel like credits at all while you’re there.” Kauzmann said. “We are working very hard with faculty members who are teaching those courses to reimagine how they are being taught.”

The venture nest will be the only nest to offer course credit. Every other nest are unpaid, noncredit bearing experiences.

Hatchery applications are open until April 30, and the program will run from May 23 through August 9. The full-time program requires students to secure summer housing.

Austin Huffman, ’21, an IBE student with concentrations in supply chain management and mechanical engineering, said he is excited to push himself to learn as much as he can from the program.

“My goal is to learn all the things that I don’t know that I don’t know yet,” Huffman said. “I’m sure I’ll make a lot of mistakes, but I’m excited to make them.” 

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