The Commons Akron Innovation Accelerator

October 20, 2019

Leading NE Ohio Companies Engage Students with Innovation Challenges

This fall students from seven area universities met at Akron’s Bounce Innovation Hub to join in a three-week pilot program called The Commons Akron.  The students worked with cross-functional teams and mentors on innovation challenges from leading Northeast Ohio companies. Started in Milwaukee, The Commons concept engages, trains and retains motivated and curious students (regardless of discipline).  The Commons provides meaningful business challenges, connects students to mentors, exposes the students to companies and creates a center for innovation for all to share ideas.  Bounce is the perfect partner and venue.

Coming into the program, students identified themselves as: 

  • Hipsters – designers, artists and creatives
  • Hackers – technical / engineer-types
  • Hustlers – sales, marketing, finance and business
  • Handlers – project coordinators, organizers and team leaders

They were then assigned on cross-functional teams to work on projects with leaders from Akron Children’s Hospital, FirstEnergy, Goodyear, The J.M. Smucker Company and The Timken Company. They participated in two 6-hour days of training – which included meeting with business mentors to guide and challenge their ideas — and then working virtually for three weeks before presenting their findings on October 19 at Bounce.

Want to get involved?

We invite companies, mentors, students and universities to participate, and we are planning for another program in February 2020. Contact Chris Keller at EDGE for more information.

Special thanks to the RJF Foundation and The Harvard Business School Club of Northeast Ohio for their support as well as participating schools in the fall program: The University of Akron, Baldwin Wallace University, The College of Wooster, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Start State College, and Walsh University.