Higher Ed Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Toolkit

With support of the Kauffman Foundation, the Center for Customized Research and Services at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and Venn Collaborative are engaged in a project to identify, collect, and share practices that will support and increase the adoption of entrepreneur-focused economic development strategies in higher education.


Although many initiatives for entrepreneurship exist nationally, many do not tap higher education institutions as strategic partners. At the same time, programs within higher education institutions are sometimes siloed and don’t necessarily work reciprocally with their regional partners, such as economic developers, entrepreneurial support organizations, or business assistance programs.

Connecting these groups and closing the gaps through strategies and practices brings the possibility of developing much more successful—and equitable—entrepreneurial economic development ecosystems. Collecting and sharing ideas, resources, and relationship building tools could help regions—and their college and universities—flourish.

Project Information

The project team is working with national partners to conduct listening sessions, stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and developing surveys and literature reviews. This ‘discovery’ work will culminate in a design phase in which the digital toolkit will be planned and tested, leading to final development. As the project is launched, the freely available open-source toolkit will be live on this website and distributed through a network of partners developed during the project.

The project begins in October 2022, and the toolkit will be launched in late 2023.

Project Leads

The project leads are the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Center for Customized Research and Services and Venn Collaborative.

Key partners include the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the University Economic Development Association (UEDA), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The project is funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Advisory Board

We have assembled a national advisory board for the Higher Education and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Toolkit project. The eight members gathered have been nominated by their peers as experts in entrepreneurial support and higher education leadership. They bring a diversity of experience and insight to the project that will be invaluable in helping us understand the challenges that our institutions and their partners face and in identifying the solutions to overcome them.

Mailing list

Please sign up below to receive updates on the project and to learn about toolkit design, testing, and community opportunities. You can also follow the progress of this project through our social media channels.