Furman University President Elizabeth Davis speaks on December 17, 2020, at a press conference announcing the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s new shared working space with NEXT and the city of Greenville.

The Next Idea Hub

With its expansion into downtown Greenville, Furman’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is claiming its seat at the table.

By Clinton Colmenares

Who better to help build a knowledge-based economy in Greenville, South Carolina, than Furman students, faculty and staff?

Furman’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) has joined the city of Greenville’s economic development team in locating offices in downtown Greenville with NEXT, an entrepreneurial-support organization that operates under the Greenville Chamber Foundation.

“Furman is excited to be part of this shared working space with NEXT and the city of Greenville,” says Furman President Elizabeth Davis. “This is an excellent opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to engage in meaningful work with the city, and to help make Greenville a leading innovation hub in the country.”

Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman I&E, speaks during the announcement event.

The Furman I&E launched in August 2018 with Anthony Herrera as executive director. The institute fosters innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset at Furman by offering programming for students, faculty and staff. It also plays a crucial role in the local innovation and entrepreneurship community as a convener and facilitator. Sharing space in the NEXT on Main facility, on the third floor of the Bank of America building overlooking ONE City Plaza, enhances that role.

“It’s much easier to have a seat at the table and to help bring organizations together around a table, when that table literally is steps away in a shared space,” says Herrera. “With a location downtown, together with NEXT and the city of Greenville and close to other organizations, Furman is in a prime position to help build the knowledge-based economy and make Greenville a national hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Furman’s participation might surprise some people. The university doesn’t have an engineering or a business school. “But innovation is about curiosity, creativity and ideas,” says Davis. “That’s what Furman has been cultivating all along.”

Whether a student majors in business, English or philosophy, they can still be innovative and entrepreneurial, says Herrera, noting that 40 percent of high school students want to be entrepreneurs. “I&E’s close relationships with organizations, including NEXT and the city, will give Furman students an advantage, regardless of their choice of majors,” he says.

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