Free Resources & Strategies for Higher Ed Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building. The C•CUBE Toolkit from UWO & Venn Collaborative sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation

About C•Cube

How this Toolkit Came To Be and Who Produces and Maintains It

About the Project

Conversations for Colleges and Universities in Building Ecosystems (C•CUBE) —a project of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Venn Collaborative, and national partners —aims to provide inspiration, resources, community, definitions, case studies, practices, and other tools for higher education stakeholders to help them support entrepreneurial ecosystem building, and to strengthen and improve established ecosystems. Central to the tools offered here are “conversation guides”—suggested topics and formats for dialogue between and among higher education professionals, ecosystem builders, and other stakeholders.

Background and Vision

C•CUBE toolkit was inspired by work undertaken by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as well as the Association for Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the International Business Innovation Alliance (InBIA), the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), the University Economic Development Association (UEDA), and many other organizations and advocates nationwide. These groups are unified in the realization that colleges and universities are often an untapped resource in supporting ecosystem building. They have a shared vision in which all higher education institutions will have the tools and opportunities to develop ecosystem mindsets and tools to incorporate practices into their work that advance entrepreneurship ecosystems, including helping to build strong collaborations among ecosystem partners. Higher education has a key role in increasing prosperity and building thriving communities. The C•CUBE toolkit can help.

A parallel component of this vision is that we can only do this together, and that by building a network of networks—practitioners and organizations engaged in this work nationwide—the work can be amplified and enhanced. That’s why it’s important that you not only use the toolkit in your local efforts, but that you also engage in the national conversation by joining our C•CUBE community. In some ways, building successful ecosystems is a question of initiating and supporting great conversations to spark successful collaboration. We hope that the toolkit provides the inspiration and resources to begin this, and that our LinkedIn group provides a platform to sustain the national conversation.


C•CUBE is primarily intended for the higher education community, across all types of colleges and universities, and all relevant roles and responsibilities within institutions:

Entrepreneurship Center Leaders

Entrepreneurship Educators and Researchers

Engagement and Outreach Professionals

Technology Transfer Officers

Small Business Development Centers

Research and Economic Development Professionals

Additionally, other ecosystem stakeholders may find the resources and tools available here helpful in their ecosystem building efforts, and in building connections with local colleges and universities:

Ecosystem Builders

Entrepreneurial Support Organizations

Economic Developers

Venture Development Organizations

Community Organizations

This toolkit is not primarily intended for direct use by entrepreneurs and founders, businesses, customers, and investors, but will help supporting individuals and organizations build stronger connections with these stakeholders.

About the Project Partners

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and Venn Collaborative are co-leads on the C•Cube project.

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a public university located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It is part of the University of Wisconsin System and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs to approximately 14,000 students each year.

College of Business
The College of Business at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is AACSB accredited and is a leading institution for business education, offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, certifications, professional training and development, and industry partnerships.

Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a hub for fostering entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, providing resources, guidance, funding, and support to aspiring entrepreneurs and startups within the university community and beyond.

Venn Collaborative is a consulting agency providing  services, community and networking, and professional learning to higher education partnership professionals. We also serve community, economic, and workforce developers with an aim of helping drive transformation at the intersections of talent, innovation, and place. Projects including strategic planning, partnership development, coaching, content development, evaluation grant development, research, and discovery. Recent Venn clients include The University of Oregon, East Carolina University, University of Central Florida, NIST, and Northern Illinois University.

Venn Collaborative is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the C•CUBE toolkit.

About the Dissemination Partners

Established in 1976, the University Economic Development Association has been working to bring together higher education institutions, private sector businesses, non-profits, government organizations, and community economic development stakeholders to create local and regional economic opportunity. Our membership has grown to more than 160 organizations, who represent those at the leading edge of modern economic development thinking and practice. Learn more here.

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) is a 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges. NACCE provides resources and support to help community colleges build and sustain high-impact entrepreneurship programs. Learn more here.

InBIA is a global nonprofit with over 1000 members that lead entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs) in more than 30 countries. InBIA serves these ESOs by creating an impactful community through comprehensive resources, training, and thought leadership. For nearly four decades, InBIA has been a leader in providing industry-specific resources for building thriving entrepreneurship ecosystems through sustainable ESOs across a wide scope of industries and disciplines. InBIA is the go-to organization for business incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, and other ESOs dedicated to nurturing the unique startups in their communities. Learn more here.

APLU is a membership organization that fosters a community of university leaders collectively working to advance the mission of public research universities. The association’s membership consists of nearly 250 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations spanning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, six U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico. Learn more here.

Founded in 1981, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) is an inclusive community of educators, researchers, and entrepreneurs advancing entrepreneurship education through bold teaching, scholarship, and practice. Membership is open to all, as is attendance at USASBE’s hallmark annual conference. USASBE also publishes a peer-reviewed academic journal, Entrepreneurship Education & Pedagogy, and develops a variety of helpful resources and professional development opportunities for entrepreneurship educators as they create a positive impact. Learn more here.

Project Advisors

The national advisory board for the C•CUBE project is a group of eight experts with deep experience and insight into how ecosystems thrive—and the role that higher education can play. The advisory board provided feedback on all aspects of the project, participating in the conception and design of the project, as well as strategy and outreach.

Kevin Carter
Head of Business Development, EcoMap Technologies

Stephanie Pierce
Executive Director, Spark MHK, Manhattan, Kansas

Jasmine Cordero-West
Associate Director, Rutgers Advanced Institute for the Study of Entrepreneurship and Development (RAISED), Rutgers University

Sammy Popat
Campus Connector, Discovery District Manager & Interim Director of MAVRIC, University of Maryland College Park, Office of Innovation and Economic Development

Jerry Edmonds, Ed.D.
Vice President, Workforce Development and Community Engagement, Vance Granville Community College

Scott Resnick
Principal, Hardin Design and Development 

Conaway Haskins
Vice President, Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation

Idella Yamben, Ph.D.
Director, Wisconsin Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC), University of Wisconsin System