’Hurst creates ‘Spark Tank’ for young entrepeneurs

Adrian Monty, Staff writer

Innovative students now have the opportunity to launch their ideas with Spark Tank at MU, a new program designed to help students become social entrepreneurs.
Colin Hurley, director of community engagement, announced Spark Tank at MU on Friday, Sept. 17, in conjunction with announcements from Ignite Erie and collaborative partners Penn State Erie, the Behrend College.
Spark Tank has the potential to bring together business, intel, hospitality, communications, art, and other departments as it is a space where anyone can come with their ideas and make them tangible, according to Hurley.
The Spark Tank program has several different components to it.
One is OpenMIC Night, or Mercyhurst Ideation Challenge, where students are encouraged to share their ideas and help to solve problems in any way they see fit. The event, which will take place at some point this fall, will be led by Hurley.
“I’d love to create that space of collaboration and ideation for MU students where they blend classroom learning with their own gifts and abilities to be ‘changemakers’ who solve real world problems,” Hurley said
There will also be the ICE House Entrepreneurial Learning Program within Spark Tank, a semester long process geared toward students who are interested in entrepreneurial social change, as well as satisfying part of the Mercyhurst mission.
“This is absolutely fantastic for campus,” said Organizational Leadership graduate student Nick Plonski. “If it’s a little more for individuals, but also for helping to solve the community problems, that’s something that I feel is needed for today’s day and age. Why not start right here on campus.”
The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority gave the grant to Ignite Erie with the premise that teams involved in its projects will consist of members from different universities, such as Penn State Behrend, Mercyhurst and
Gannon, in an effort to bring the Erie community together.
The grant will help fund short term projects and a business plan competition in
which winners will receive a $60,000 start-up grant.
Hurley encourages students
to go to the OpenMIC Night to test the waters before committing to the ICE House Program next spring.
“Any student can participate, students who are in it for the long haul, students who want to solve problems over the course of their lifetime,” Hurley said.