Global Mindset. Local Changes. Westmont’s Hub for Technology, Creativity, and Moral Imagination
The Westmont Hub (WestHUB) brings the campus together to incubate and accelerate entrepreneurial ventures across disciplines. Housed at Westmont Downtown, WestHUB offers its partners collaborative workspace, seed funding, targeted mentorships, a 1-unit seminar, and community networks. Interested participants apply, or are nominated for, a select number of spaces each term. Unlike many existing incubators and accelerators, Westmont’s Hub connects innovation and new venture creation with the College’s liberal arts lenses and faith commitments. To tackle real-world problems, our community needs more than just good ideas. It needs citizens and creators equipped with 360-degree thinking, cross-cultural acumen, and robust moral imaginations. A Westmont education cultivates these qualities in its students. By challenging students to apply what they’ve learned to real-world ventures, WestHUB inculcates these qualities for a lifetime.
WestHUB will align with the College’s mission in several ways.
It provides the space, mentorship, and resources for interdisciplinary
collaboration across disciplines. No current space exists that serves the entire
It cultivates the creation of new ventures that are aligned with the College’s
mission to 1) launch students with global mindsets who become active citizens in their communities and 2) to equip students to serve as faithful leaders and grateful servants in their churches and the world.
It provides an avenue for students to try out their academically inspired ideas in a real world setting with a bench of mentors and colleagues to support them along the way.
It establishes meaningful connections between students and community leaders and entrepreneurs, accelerating their post-college job prospects.
It demonstrates to prospective students and parents that the College supports opportunities for innovative and applied learning.
It offers the College the potential for intellectual property.
What kinds of ventures will WestHUB incubate? Here is a short (and hypothetical) list of the diverse range of projects that could benefit from the Hub’s services and support.
§ A prescription drug delivery service for seniors with limited travel capacity § A city mural team
§ A version of Uber that helps parents with afterschool care transportation § A public debate series for Santa Barbara political office
§ An alternate student film festival for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival § A student e-book guide to eating cheap in Santa Barbara
§ A video game based on augmented reality
Although many of the top liberal arts colleges offer incubator programs, such programs are rarely interdisciplinary in design and focus. Faculty in these programs often come from business departments and occasionally computer science. Westmont’s Hub will amplify a diverse range of student projects, invigorating learning-by-doing across college departments. WestHUB’s faculty advisory board represents every division of the College, signaling that interdisciplinary is not merely rhetorical, but embedded into the Hub’s core.
Existing incubators also seldom connect liberal arts reflection or faith commitments to the process of creating new ventures. With some notable exceptions, liberal arts colleges have followed the business school model of business plan competitions, which stress financial profits over other considerations. Even CCCU schools have struggled to build incubators or accelerators that consider the deepest human questions. Moreover, several of the CCCU schools in our region have outsourced their initiatives to outside organizations. While outsourcing quickly expands capacity, it does nothing to build a campus-wide culture of innovation. Westmont’s Hub uses the liberal arts and Christian conviction as fundamental foundations on which to shape entrepreneurial ventures. In so doing, WestHUB flows out of the College’s mission and sets it apart from its peer institutions.
Application. Students, faculty, or staff with beginning or mid- stage ventures apply or are nominated for a select number of openings (10 spots in spring term and 10 spots in summer term).
Acceptance. Those accepted become Hub “partners” and receive 4 months of desk space, initial seed funding (amount is variable based on the project), mentorship, and access to Hub resources.
Venture Development. Hub partners develop their projects amid a robust community of creators and community speakers and mentors. Students are required to register for the Hub’s 1-unit seminar, “Liberal Arts on the Ground.” Using multidisciplinary case studies, the course offers a liberal arts and faith-based framework for thinking about new venture creation. Students may also earn up to 2 units of major credit for their projects subject to departmental review and approval.
Launch. At the end of 4 months, partners will have the opportunity to pitch their ventures to a board of judges and potential angel investors. Partners will also work with mentors to create a detailed assessment of next steps.
Loop back. Partners can extend their participation in the program in several ways. First, they might apply for an extra residency term (either in summer or fall) to take their project to the next stage. Second, as program alumni they can offer coaching, mentorship, and funding to current partners. Third, they continue to have access to all Westmont Hub events.
ACADEMIC ADVISORY BOARD
As an interdisciplinary initiative, Westmont’s Hub draws on advisors from each division of the college.
Natural and Behavioral Sciences