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A rendering of the Maverick Innovation Center’s interior.


Something for everyone at the Maverick Innovation Center

Colorado Mesa University’s Maverick Innovation Center at Piñon Hall opened its doors this week. A resource available to students from any field of study, the center houses a workshop space where aspiring entrepreneurs can collaborate across disciplines to develop ideas and turn them into a reality. The innovation center will also host a series of guest speakers throughout the fall who will discuss their experiences as inventors and entrepreneurs. These talks are open to the campus and regional community.

Center director Tom Benton said his role is to coordinate the business community with CMU faculty and students who use the innovation center. “My job is to create opportunities for students so that they have mentor relationships to help them move from concept to marketable product,” he said. “And fortunately I’ve had the opportunity to work with a host of folks who have gone through that process.”

Benton has worked in financial services for more than two decades, most recently retiring from Wells Fargo Bank as business banking manager. He is also active in the community, and has established connections with local entrepreneurs and business owners through his ties with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce.

He’s spent time this summer recruiting experts to share their knowledge with students through the innovation center speaker series. On Thursday evenings, these community members will share their life experiences in business and give advice on challenges students are currently facing on specific projects. Some of these speakers will also speak on a more general level at the monthly Campus Entrepreneurship Brown Bag series.

One of the first speakers is Tom Osborn, a CMU alumnus who is the product developer at Proctor and Gamble and holds more than 150 patents. Osborn will also serve as the center’s inventor-in-residence for a week.

There will also be a monthly Faculty Brown Bag series, designed specifically for faculty interested in creativity and entrepreneurship. The speakers and their topics are chosen based on faculty interest. Benton said he has spent a lot of time meeting with faculty from many disciplines to discover what those interests are.

Later this fall, the innovation center will host an open house featuring projects and visual displays created by CMU faculty and community members. Benton said he extends an invitation to anyone interested in getting involved with the innovation center. More about the Maverick Innovation Center will be released soon.

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Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

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