ASU, Arizona libraries collaborate to offer co-working spaces, business support
Hub and spoke system will use ASU SkySong to support new EUREKA spaces in designated libraries
ASU Venture Catalyst, the startup unit of Arizona State University, along with the Scottsdale Public Library system, has announced a new initiative for helping inventors, problem-solvers, social enterprises, entrepreneurs and small businesses. The new Alexandria Network is designed to provide support for the innovation economy within designated libraries, eventually creating a network of locations across the greater Phoenix area and then across the state of Arizona.
These new locations will combine elements of the now popular co-working spaces, along with expert library fact-finding services and ASU startup resources, into one designated place. Innovators and entrepreneurs can use these EUREKA co-working spaces on a daily basis to work on their ideas while also getting mentorship, advice and access to some "pracademic" classes both online and in the libraries.
Using proven startup content, experienced entrepreneurial mentors and "pracademic" teaching modules from their successful Rapid Startup Schools, ASU will support these new co-working and development spaces in designated libraries. The pilot EUREKA location will be in the Scottsdale Public Library system, based in the Civic Center library. The long-term objective is to support the hundreds of inventors, problem-solvers, entrepreneurs, and micro- and small-businesses from across Arizona that need help to advance their ideas. The first EUREKA space in Scottsdale will open in early April.
“We are creating an ecosystem for success to occur in Scottsdale, and many companies here are benefitting from that,” said Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane. “Scottsdale also has an incredible number of entrepreneurs in every business type, and the free resources and opportunities to connect and learn from fellow business people provided through the Alexandria Network will be a powerful asset for them.”
“We have an opportunity to leverage the many entrepreneurship resources of ASU, including the mentor network we have built at ASU SkySong, to support innovators outside of the traditional locations in Arizona,” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU. “Our vision is to create a ‘hub and spoke’ system with our colleagues in libraries across the state where ASU SkySong is the hub that acts as a support structure for the innovators and job creators that exist in our communities, and each library location is an additional spoke that continues to expand the Alexandria Network.”
The Alexandria Network is named after the first great library, the Library at Alexandria, which started in the third century B.C. The layout of the Alexandria library is actually copied by universities, as it provided reading rooms, meeting spaces, and lecture halls for its innovative patrons. The Alexandria Library, and the other libraries in antiquity that followed it, were not just about books; in essence, they were society’s first collaborative co-working spaces and knowledge hubs. People would gather in libraries to discuss, debate, and tackle issues such as astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and anatomy. Historians now count these places as the first research institutions, predating the university by centuries.
The Alexandria Network is designed to help the modern library offer similar collaboration spaces with an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, offering the community a major public good.
“This is the role of the library in a new economic, social and learning landscape,” said Carol Damaso, director of the Scottsdale Public Library. “We are partnering on this innovative concept to provide a cooperative learning space and programming that combines the proven success of ASU entrepreneurship programs with the library as a known space for continuing education for all people.”
The Scottsdale EUREKA location will be supported by the Economic Development team in the City of Scottsdale, as these spaces will support the current and potential innovators in Scottsdale, as well as entrepreneurs and small business. Therefore there is a large potential for driving economic development and creating new products, businesses, and jobs.
Scottsdale is home to companies who are thought leaders in their respective industries – companies like Go Daddy and Taser to name two among many – and thus an ideal starting place for the Alexandria Network. The presence of companies like these helps create a business atmosphere that sparks innovation and attracts entrepreneurs in all business sectors.
Being an inventor, problem-solver, or entrepreneur is often a lonely task. The EUREKA locations will serve as places for people to connect, as individual networking amongst participants is an important part of the concept. Moreover, local library staff will act as champions by offering information resources to their community of innovators.
“We are a business-friendly city, and proud to be part of this program because the collaboration and programming available through the Alexandria Network will benefit everyone, from new startups and small businesses to industry giants and everyone in between,” said Lane.
“We don’t believe any entrepreneur is a ‘lifestyle’ business. We are creating the Alexandria Network to support what we are calling ‘Great Little Companies’ and those people who can create businesses, products, and solutions to problems, whether they be big or small,” added McConnell.
The ASU mentor network will be activated to provide additional expert entrepreneurial support. Online and digital assets from the library system and ASU will also be leveraged to provide additional guidance for the varied users of the EUREKA locations. The Alexandria Network is interested in hearing from individuals, mentors, and organizations that are interested in supporting this innovation. More details on the resources, classes and supports that will be available will be announced when the pilot location is officially opened in April. Additional locations will be announced on a rolling basis during 2013.
For more information on the Alexandria Network, visit http://www.asuventurecatalyst.org/p/content/alexandria-network.
To contact us about volunteering or possible additional locations, contact Tracy Lea at email@example.com.