IdeaLab Calls for Submissions – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

IdeaLab Calls for Submissions

Aspiring student entrepreneurs, take notice. This spring, the Centennial Center for Leadership is following up on its second run of The Pitch with an innovative, six-week program designed to help students kick start their ideas while cultivating their entrepreneurial spirit.

The program, formally dubbed the HWS IdeaLab, aims to provide ambitious students with the tools needed to successfully develop ideas, from innovative products to services and organizations. Housed in the CCL, but steered by a committee of students, the IdeaLab strives to provide applicants with both the skills necessary to further develop their concept and the environment needed to bring their idea into fruition.

“The first Pitch contest definitely helped put us on the path towards this program,” says Amy Forbes, associate director of the Centennial Center for Leadership and IdeaLab coordinator. “We’ve learned a lot over the last year when it comes to understanding the process that brings about ideas and we’re hopeful that the IdeaLab will respond to the entrepreneurial leadership interests of HWS in a way that serves the educational process of innovation.”

IdeaLab proposals are due to the CCL by 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Following the deadline, the applicant pool will be narrowed to a group of eight to ten students who will have the opportunity to join a six-week accelerator workshop series in entrepreneurship and vie for seed funding from a pool of $3,000.

“We hope lab participants will reflect a cross-selection of academic disciplines, experiences and ideas,” says Forbes. “This includes any Pitch contestants that did not move on to the final Pitch round.  Ideas are most frequently generated through creative collaboration where failure is important and feedback is essential.”

In addition to conferring with peers, selected IdeaLab applicants will meet with a core group of faculty and staff alums with the aim of streamlining their proposals before resubmission in late spring. Students also will have access to the Colleges’ vast network of alums and will be able to seek out professional expertise when it comes to marketing, designing and revising their final proposal.

Unique to the HWS IdeaLab is the selection process. Applicants will be chosen by a student committee in coordination with the CCL. Additionally, in keeping with the CCL’s commitment to create leadership opportunities for students, the CCL staff along with the student committee will meet to allocate and distribute $3,000 in funding amongst qualified lab participants at the end of the six-week period.  

“We’ve had a growing student organization, called Enactus, step forward and take on this role,” Forbes adds. “They will work in coordination with the CCL to recruit student ideas, select the lab participants and then assist in allocating the final funds.”

While both programs allow for students to “compete” for funding, Forbes highlights the differences between The Pitch and IdeaLab when identifying what makes each program a valued asset on campus.

“The Pitch’s emphasis is on the sustained growth patterns that takes one idea to reality,” Forbes says. “The IdeaLab is designed to offer a shorter, accelerated experience for students who want to work on their ideas with others. Its focus is on the very early innovation stage.”

With the application deadline fast approaching, interested students are encouraged to submit their IdeaLab proposals.  To enter an idea, students can find an application on the CCL’s website at or they can stop by the center for a hard copy.