By Laurie Laker ’12
Jacob Eichengreen, the executive director of the Quad Innovation Partnership (QIP), is a busy man. A former Fulbright Research and Venture for America Fellow, Eichengreen has always been driven toward sustainable community change.
Over the past year, he has been working to get the QIP off the ground here in Colorado Springs, in collaboration with Colorado College, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, and the Air Force Academy. Begun in early 2014, the QIP is the result of collaborative brainstorming among the leadership of the four local colleges. CC President Jill Tiefenthaler, Air Force Academy Lt. General Michelle Johnson, UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak, and PPCC President Lance Bolton launched the Quad Innovation Partnership as a “Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurism.” Aimed at serving the region’s brightest graduates in workplace transition, the QIP seeks to retain alumni within the local community, helping them turn their passions into their professions.
After a year of concept planning from the institutions’ leadership, Eichengreen was brought in to head up the next stages of development. So far, the QIP has run two summer institutes, one of which Eichengreen helped design before his hire. Both institutes helped students from the partner schools discover business and entrepreneurial opportunities in the broader Colorado Springs community, and much more programming is in the works. Additionally, a dedicated space is in the works, located on South Nevada Avenue. Including a workspace, collaborative classrooms, and mentoring access, it will equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and space to pursue their goals. The location is due to open next semester.
The transition from college into the workplace can be difficult, and the QIP hopes to offer a solution. The skills that students and graduates have acquired during their time at college are “universally applicable across the local and wider community,” Eichengreen says. What Colorado Springs lacks, he says, at present, is “the local variety of industries to pull these talented students and graduates toward remaining in the community.” Therein lies the heart of QIP’s work yet to come. These industries have to be built, and the ambition of the four institutions — and Eichengreen — is to have CC, UCCS, PPCC, and AFA graduates build them.
Involving people who are “passionate about social change, wanting to make a difference, and refuse to accept the status quo,” is the core engine of QIP’s planned future. Eichengreen hopes that in time the QIP will come to be seen as a focal point for local graduates to address local issues, and he’s working with student organizations toward that end.