Emory’s student innovation center, The Hatchery, turns one

By Gana Ahn | Emory Report | March 24, 2021

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Shown here before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Emory’s student innovation center, The Hatchery, provides a hub to fuel creativity and support Emory innovators and entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey. Celebrate The Hatchery’s one-year anniversary at a physically distanced party on March 26.

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The Hatchery

A little over a year ago, Emory’s 15,000-square-foot student innovation center, The Hatchery, opened its doors to provide programs and space to fuel creativity and support Emory innovators and entrepreneurs at every stage of their journeys.

The opening of The Hatchery kicked off an exciting start to the 2020 spring semester, but COVID-19 soon hit. A space designed for free-flowing collaboration was faced with no students on campus, remote learning and social distancing requirements.

Shannon Clute, director of The Hatchery, turned the challenge of operating under a suppressed environment into an opportunity to double down on innovation process, co-design and experiment.

“To be successful in innovation and entrepreneurship in a remote setting, we had to focus even more deeply on the needs of students,” says Clute. “Throughout 2020 we were able to launch many new student initiatives to support innovation and entrepreneurship, even in a pandemic.”

The Hatchery was able to serve nearly 1,200 students from both campuses in every school, undergraduate and graduate, with 22 programs to target specific student innovator and entrepreneur needs. It also supported 24 student projects (with 12 more kicking off soon) and provided more than 550 hours of coaching for student founders, leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Making innovation and entrepreneurship accessible for all

From the start, The Hatchery differentiated itself from other centers by embracing a broad approach to innovation and entrepreneurship. The center can support the full spectrum of innovation from inspiration to startup, and at every stage emphasizes the importance of diversity, inclusion and social impact. 

“Emory attracts changemakers, and we want everyone at Emory to feel like innovation and entrepreneurship are for them,” says Paul Welty, vice provost for academic innovation. “Innovation is a skill that is needed in every career, and whether you’re a student who wants to learn a new skill, make connections, seek advice or start a new service or product to change the world, The Hatchery is equipped to assist all student ventures at all stages.” 

Yifei Gao, a student in the Emory College Class of 2023 majoring in economics and computer science, says, “Working with The Hatchery has allowed the creative side of me to roam free and receive the support I needed for all of the projects I am passionate about. Ever since I was little, I was obsessed with connecting others and the arts. The Hatchery allowed me to establish a nonprofit startup called Art for Heart, which uses art to fuel activism, and co-found the student organization AltKEY that supports sustainable fashion.” 

Anna Rhoads, an Oxford College student majoring in business, works with The Hatchery through an internship where she collaborates with students and staff to improve Emory club life. 

“In just one year, The Hatchery has proved to be an integral part of Emory's campus,” Rhoads says. “With all the changes that have happened over this past year, innovation and efficiency are more important than ever. The Hatchery is at the forefront of that innovation, and I have never witnessed an organization that is so dedicated to the wellbeing of students and their goals. I’ve learned so much about innovating, business and how to put my ideas and goals into action by working with The Hatchery.” 

Brian Le, a music composition and business administration major, shares that, “If it wasn’t for The Hatchery, I wouldn’t have been able to meet so many incredible, innovative and passionate people at Emory. From students to staff members, I’ve met so many that are passionate for change, and it’s really helped me find a community that stretches past academics or clubs. I’m invested in the Emory community more than I’ve ever been because of how excited I am for what my fellow innovators do in the future.” 

Services The Hatchery provides include:

  • Courses and training on innovation and entrepreneurship skills
  • Personalized mentoring and coaching
  • Material and financial support for student ventures
  • Physical space for collaboration, a makerspace with prototyping materials (including a 3D printer), presentation and event spaces, and classrooms
  • Connections outside Emory to companies, organizations and alumni
  • Peer-to-peer entrepreneurship and innovation community, to support students and organizations
  • Insights and tips from industry thought leaders with shows such as “Emory Innovators” and “Might Could: Stories of Innovation in the ATL”

“As successful as this first year has been, we have no doubt that even more exciting times lie ahead,” says Clute. “We’ve been putting in place the programs and resources student innovators and entrepreneurs need, and we’re now ready to scale up operations with the return of students to campus.  By fall semester, we’ll be serving all students, of all schools, at all points in their innovation and entrepreneurship journey.” 

Join the celebration

To celebrate The Hatchery’s one-year anniversary, the center is hosting a physically distanced birthday party on Friday, March 26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first 100 people to swing by the courtyard at The Point and say hello at The Hatchery’s side door will receive treats and door prizes. The event is free, and there will be games, activities and giveaways throughout the day. 

In addition, The Hatchery is hosting its first online conference, “Innovation for All,” March 29-31. All presenters will be student innovators and entrepreneurs. Register for the conference here or learn more about the student presenters by following The Hatchery’s Instagram @emoryhatchery.

Visit The Hatchery website to learn more.