William Davidson Foundation and The Henry Ford will inspire emerging and seasoned entrepreneurs and future game changers to collaborate, learn and grow
In 2019, The Henry Ford kicked off the William Davidson Initiative for Entrepreneurship, which includes comprehensive entrepreneurial programming that will allow the institution to test and explore multiple learning platforms designed to help launch the next generation of entrepreneurs.
This initiative is a game changer aimed at engaging current and future innovators. “The overall goal of the William Davidson Initiative for Entrepreneurship is to leverage the Archive of American Innovation and assets of The Henry Ford to inspire current and future entrepreneurs to be more successful,” said Patricia E. Mooradian, president and CEO of The Henry Ford.
The William Davidson Initiative for Entrepreneurship has four core pillars. They are:
- Hosting speaker series on invention, innovation and entrepreneurship
According to Carol Kendra, The Henry Ford’s vice president of business development, strategic growth and engagement, the chosen speakers for the program will be carefully curated, with two to three proposed per year. “We want individuals who are involved in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship so that they can share their experiences and serve as inspiring influences,” she said.
First on the guest speaker list is Lauren Bush Lauren of FEED, a company with a mission to fight world hunger through the unlikely platform of fashion products. She spoke at The Henry Ford on February 21, 2019.
- Launching an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) Program
EIR will invite successful entrepreneurs to devote time on-site at The Henry Ford — with unprecedented access to the collections and assets of the institution.
These individuals will spend several months leveraging the institution’s resources and knowledge bank to help further demonstrate how invention and entrepreneurship are important parts of student learning and development. EIRs selected through the program will be established individuals, reflective of diversity in not only demographics and background but disciplines as well, said Kendra. The goal moving forward is to offer two residencies per year.
- Developing workshops in entrepreneurship
EIRs will conduct at least two workshops per year while in residency at The Henry Ford. “We want to provide unique experiences where our entrepreneur in residence, historians, staff and partners can work with local entrepreneurs building networking and learning opportunities that inspire creative collaborations,” said Kendra.
- Expanding youth programming
The initiative will also work to strengthen The Henry Ford’s existing youth programming, from working with newly acquired partner The Stemie Coalition to further elements of both the Michigan Invention Convention and the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo to connecting youth inventors with more experienced entrepreneurs through related workshops and/or the EIR program.
DID YOU KNOW?
Lauren Bush Lauren, founder and CEO of FEED, created a brand to tackle the problem of world hunger through social consumerism. The number on every single FEED product represents how many school meals are provided with each purchase.
There will be two foundational elements that provide content and spaces for new programs:
- Digitizing The Henry Ford’s Archive of American Innovation
The William Davidson Initiative for Entrepreneurship provides additional funding to The Henry Ford’s existing project to digitize more of its collections, including creating more video content for its “Visionaries on Innovation” series.
- Building innovation spaces
The Henry Ford will create physical spaces for use by EIRs as well as an Innovation Sandbox on campus. “This is a space that will engage technology entrepreneurs in product development,” explained Kendra. “Moving forward, the sandbox will provide one-of-a-kind tools to encourage inspiration and collaboration among its users and product feedback from the general public as new ideas are being built and tested.”
A Powerful Partnership
This program would not be a reality without the William Davidson Foundation, a generous donor to The Henry Ford since 2012. In a short time, the foundation’s support, vision and collaborative spirit have been instrumental in making some of The Henry Ford’s most recent educational endeavors, exhibits, conservation projects and artifact curation, including its ongoing digitization efforts, great successes. The new Davidson-Gerson Modern Glass Gallery in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Davidson-Gerson Gallery of Glass in Greenfield Village, for example, are compelling proof points of this partnership’s power and achieved accomplishments.
“We want to create new hands-on learning environments, makerspaces and hubs of entrepreneurship where problem-solving, tinkering, making and the incubation of new ideas will take place and be nurtured,” said Mooradian. “To go to the next level, we need like-minded investors to leverage opportunities and create impact for generations of future entrepreneurs. The William Davidson Foundation once again has given us the ability to pursue our vision.”
On a wider impact scale, the Initiative for Entrepreneurship will also work toward building relationships between The Henry Ford and the entrepreneurial community in southeast Michigan. “Inspiring future innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs is at the core of what we do and defines the unique role The Henry Ford can play in building a healthier entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city of Detroit and in the southeast Michigan region,” said Mooradian. “With the support of the William Davidson Foundation and other generous donors like it, we are building an unprecedented set of tools for unlocking the most powerful resource on earth — the next generation.”