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July 26, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Mike Bradshaw named Director of UTC’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The former Executive Director of CO.LAB says two of his top priorities are paid internships for students and partnerships with others.

Mike Bradshaw has been named as the next Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC).

He stepped into the new role on July 1 after serving for the past two years as CIE’s inaugural Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and he could not be happier. Bradshaw succeeds former CIE Director Libby Santin, who left UTC in January to start her own consulting business.

His appointment also comes on the heels of CIE placing third in the “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Team of the Year” category in a global competition hosted by the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (see article here).

For the always smiling and engaging Bradshaw, it will be his second time leading an organization in Chattanooga that works with entrepreneurs. He succeeded Charlie Brock in January 2013 as Executive Director at The Company Lab (CO.LAB) after Brock became President and Chief Executive Officer of Launch Tennessee. Bradshaw stepped down from that position in September 2016 to enter the private sector.

As he approaches his new leadership role, Bradshaw remembers a frequent quote uttered by Ken Hays, a longtime business and civic leader in Chattanooga: “Working together works.” That philosophy translates into developing meaningful operational relationships.

“I’m knocking on doors,” he says. “I’m going out and finding partners for CIE.” Among those that he is engaging are CO.LAB, EPB, Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC), Launch Chattanooga, and the City of Chattanooga.

It’s nothing new for Bradshaw who has a history of building relationships. This time, however, he’s focused on those that also involve providing opportunities for UTC students through programs like the Urban Vision Initiative (UVI). Launched last fall, the program supports disadvantaged individuals who are developing new businesses in underserved areas of Chattanooga, and Bradshaw is coordinating the effort using with paid interns.

“Paid internships are the best predictor of future success,” Bradshaw says, adding that he wants to build a cadre of interns for UVI and the Solutions Scholars program offered by UTC in conjunction with the Chattanooga office of the TSBDC.

CIE will also continue to offer the “Fly! Mocs Business Pitch Competition” and the Hatch It Lab maker space, both focused on student entrepreneurs.

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