New space created to launch businesses out of think[box]

LaunchNet isn’t just launching companies this semester. It’s also launching a new collaborative space.

Assorted guests, community members and Case Western Reserve University President Barbara R. Snyder came together on Friday to celebrate the grand opening of NEOLaunchNet on the Wyant Collaboration Floor of the Richey Mixon Building, which also houses the renamed and revamped Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box].

The ceremony also served as an opportunity to showcase undergraduate students who have turned their ideas into businesses with the help of LaunchNet, as well as to emphasize Case Western Reserve University’s growing standing as an entrepreneurial hub.

Felipe Gomez del Campo, a fourth-year undergraduate who started a business with the help of LaunchNet, gave a short speech about his research on injecting plasma into jet engines to improve their fuel efficiency. He took a moment in his speech to reflect on his undergraduate experience.

“I think what’s really special about Case, is that I had all the resources to take an idea and to develop it,” said Gomez del Campo. “With all these resources, there really needs to be something to tie them together, and I think that is what LaunchNet has been so incredible in doing.”

LaunchNet, formerly known as LaunchPad, now has offices in Thwing Center and the Richey Mixon Building and has provided assistance to over 20 student-led startups which have in turn raised a collective total of over 2.5 million dollars in funding. The Richey Mixon Building LaunchNet space has room for collaboration between students and businesses, as well as space for formal gatherings and events such as this opening ceremony.

LaunchNet shares the Wyant Collaboration Floor with Design for America, another collaboration-oriented organization which connects engineers with the real-work problems and opportunities. Design for America member and third-year student Connor Swingle was especially excited about the potential for the new space.

“It’s important for us to help create a community of collaboration at Case. It’s a super important part of our process, so we’re really glad to be here” said Swingle.

Bob Sopko, director of Blackstone LaunchPad, thinks that LaunchNet will serve as an important counterpart to think[box] in this new space.

“think[box] makes, but LaunchNet sells” said Sopko. “We’re the people who help students figure out if there is something to their idea. If there’s not [a marketable idea], they can go ahead and play around with it some more. If there is, we can help them get there [to a business].”