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Michigan State University

From Project to Product: The Spartan Agora

When Academic Specialist and Professor of Practice in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations Ross Chowles was asked how he might bring a little extra “zing” to his course, he had a quick answer: make it real.

The course, Creativity and Innovative Entrepreneurship, is open to all undergraduates, and grades are based on three major projects throughout the semester. One of those projects is

“Answering a consumer need—needs, wants, fears, anxieties, whatever,” Chowles said.

The delivery of that project is a Shark Tank-style video. And the judges? Spartan alums.

For this inaugural Spartan Agora, named for the public spaces of ancient Greece where ideas were exchanged, Chowles received commitments from 120 Communication Arts and Sciences alums. The judges started with 150 student pitch videos before narrowing the field to eight.

In the end, two student finalists will partner with MSU’s Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, where they will develop a prototype to test company viability and receive a scholarship to offset expenses.

The Spartan Agora is scheduled to continue once a semester, inviting alums to ultimately choose two finalists to receive funding and support from MSU.


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Author: Jessica Mussell, '12

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