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July 08, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Former CO.LAB Executive Director named EIR at UTC’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

A familiar name from the past in Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial support ecosystem is back on the front lines, so to speak.

Mike Bradshaw, former Executive Director of CO.LAB, has been named the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Housed in the Gary W. Rollins College of Business, CIE was established in 2018 to engage, equip and encourage UTC’s innovators and entrepreneurs.

As noted in this January article, CIE Director Libby Santin explained the vision with some powerful words: “We see entrepreneurship really broadly at UTC. We will be just as happy if you graduate with a developed entrepreneurial mindset and apply those skills wherever you work, as we would be if you started a business.”

Mike Bradshaw

CIE supports the entire UTC community through cross-campus programming and initiatives and addresses UTC’s strategic goal to “inspire, nurture and empower scholarship, creativity, discovery, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives.” One of the Center’s key resources is Thomas Lyons, Clarence E. Harris Chair of Excellence in Entrepreneurship in the College, who was also featured in the January article.

“We are delighted to have Mike Bradshaw join our team at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as Entrepreneur-in-Residence,” Lyons said in this UTC news release (MikeBradshawNamedCIE_EntrepreneurInResidence_ FINAL). “His background as a practicing entrepreneur and his leadership at CO.LAB make him an ideal fit for this position. In addition, his strong connections with the Chattanooga entrepreneurial ecosystem will greatly benefit our students in the Rollins College of Business and across the UTC campus.”

Bradshaw succeeded Charlie Brock as CO.LAB Executive Director in January 2013 when the latter became President and Chief Executive Officer of Launch Tennessee. After nearly four years in the position, Bradshaw left to lead the operation of Jensen Hughes’ world-class knowledge-sharing and technical training services program. Earlier in his career, he was President of Trinity Communications, served as Executive Producer and Director of Software Development for The Learning Company, and was the owner and operator of several successful restaurants in Washington, DC.

In June 2013, we spotlighted Bradshaw midway through his first year leading CO.LAB in this article. Roughly three and one-half years later, he reflected on his CO.LAB tenure in this article from November 2016.

As Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Bradshaw is charged with re-energizing the “Idea Central Living-Learning Community,” a program in which students with an interest in entrepreneurship live together while learning more about the field and opportunities to pursue it on campus and in the community. He will also oversee a mentor program for student and faculty entrepreneurs, develop a “Start-up Internship Program,” act as a coach in CIE’s pilot program for measuring and developing entrepreneurship skills, and lead other initiatives that spread entrepreneurship across the UTC campus and better connect the CIE to the Chattanooga entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“UTC was instrumental to the emergence of Chattanooga’s startup community over the last decade,” Bradshaw said. “In fact, UTC students and graduates accounted for the largest number of participants in the Company Lab’s programs of any institution in the region. I am honored to serve as the Center’s inaugural EIR. I am excited that I’ll be a part of re-energizing UTC’s ties to the community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as we emerge from COVID. But, I am most excited about working with our students. Entrepreneurial thinking is an important part of a well-rounded education.”

Bradshaw earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a Master of Business Administration from UTC. He has also co-written and published several articles on entrepreneurial ecosystems.

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