Monday, November 20, 2017

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ShredLights, which provides illumination for nighttime skateboarding, was created by a student team in the Zahn Innovation Center. Photo: Tim Mantoani ShredLights, which provides illumination for nighttime skateboarding, was created by a student team in the Zahn Innovation Center. Photo: Tim Mantoani
 


$5.1 Million Gift Expands Entrepreneurial Programs

Multi-pronged endowed gift establishes design thinking platform, professorship and graduation prize with goal to energize entire SDSU campus around entrepreneurial thought and action.
By SDSU News Team
 

“We believe that entrepreneurial thought and action extend far beyond starting a venture; it’s a critical skill set that we want every member of the SDSU community equipped with.”

A new $5.1-million gift to San Diego State University from the Moxie Foundation will strengthen the university’s capacity to prepare students for bold and innovative problem-solving in the 21st century.

The endowed gift will create the Zahn Innovation Platform (ZIP), the Zahn Chair of Creativity and Innovation, the Zahn Professorship of Creativity and Innovation, and the Irwin Zahn Spirit of Innovation Prize.

“On behalf of the entire university, I wish to express our gratitude to Irwin Zahn and the Moxie Foundation for its extraordinary generosity and vision,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. “The Moxie Foundation’s comprehensive support of design thinking will advance academic programs and entrepreneurship across our campus.”

Through the President's Budget Advisory Committee process the university is also investing funds to support these initiatives.

Zahn Innovation Platform


ZIP will be a campus-wide hub for collaboration across disciplines, the exploration of new ideas and the launch of new ventures. ZIP will facilitate problem-solving and inspire students, faculty and staff to pursue their creative ideas.  The Zahn Chair of Creativity and Innovation is a new staff position that will help lead these ZIP initiatives:

  • The ZIP Launchpad is an expansion of the incubator capacity that has been central to SDSU’s entrepreneurial mission. This includes the HG Fenton Idea Lab, which offers state of the art experimentation and prototyping.
  • The ZIP Lab will use Design Thinking to facilitate collaborative problem solving for all types of design challenges across campus and in the community.
  • The ZIP Lounge is an open, creative space for informal brainstorming, co-working and planned events, which will also serve as shared space with SDSU’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center.


ZIP will expand SDSU’s Zahn Innovation Center, established in 2012 as a commercial and social incubator to support entrepreneurship on campus. The success of Zahn Center startups has helped SDSU break into the top 25 on FORBES Magazine’s list of America’s Most Entrepreneurial Universities.

The expansion and reorganization of the existing Zahn Innovation Center into ZIP will provide new opportunities for collaboration between ZIP and the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, both of which will eventually be located in SDSU’s Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences (EIS) Complex, scheduled for completion in 2018. The $90-million EIS Complex will become a campus hub of interdisciplinary STEM research that has potential for real-world application.

“We are enthusiastic to bring these new initiatives to fruition at SDSU,” said Peter Zahn, President and Director of the Moxie Foundation. “ZIP will give all students, faculty and staff opportunities to solve problems in new ways and gain skills they can use for the rest of their lives. We foresee SDSU teams collaborating, not only as entrepreneurs, but also as agents of change in the community.”

The Zahn Professorship of Creativity and Innovation

The Zahn Professorship of Creativity and Innovation is a rotating two-year appointment for SDSU faculty members from different disciplines to pursue work that accelerates entrepreneurship across campus. Every two years, a professor will be selected to advance curricular, experiential, and cross-disciplinary opportunities for students and fellow faculty. Following a call for proposals in January 2016, the inaugural Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation will be selected by May 2016.

Irwin Zahn Spirit of Innovation Prize

The endowment will also create the Irwin Zahn Spirit of Innovation Prize. Presented to one SDSU graduate each year, this prestigious prize will recognize those whose lives and work exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit. This is a significant financial award intended to cover a students’ entire debt amount, empowering honorees to pursue their dreams boldly without barriers.

“We believe that entrepreneurial thought and action extend far beyond starting a venture; it’s a critical skill set that we want every member of the SDSU community equipped with,” said Irwin Zahn, CEO and Chairman of the Moxie Foundation, describing the impetus behind the recent gift. “We have enjoyed watching the success of those involved with the Zahn Innovation Center and believe that this endowment will help expand the influence of innovation and changemaking to all corners of the campus...and beyond.”

Irwin Zahn is the founder of Autosplice, Inc., a global electronic interconnect company. Zahn sold his company in 2011 and started the Moxie Foundation with a vision to advance entrepreneurial achievement through cutting-edge, experiential education. The Moxie Foundation, based in San Diego, is dedicated to empowering individuals and communities by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

This endowment is the Moxie Foundation’s third gift to SDSU. The Moxie Foundation’s endowment is one of 112 gifts of $1 million or more to The Campaign for SDSU. Since 2007, the campaign has raised more than $617 million in support of students, faculty, staff and programs.