12/12/2023 • 5 min read

Developing an Innovation Mindset for the Entrepreneurial Student

Supportive spaces at the University of Calgary’s Hunter Hub

by Haworth, Inc.

As students move from college to career, they need marketable skills. Increasingly, employers’ most in-demand skills are soft skills. Forbes reports that communication and collaboration are two of the key “power skills” employers now seek. The World Economic Forum forecasts that creative thinking will be one of the most highly sought skills by 2027. Higher education institutions that want to provide opportunities for students to develop these skills are looking beyond the classroom. The University of Calgary’s Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking’s new space on the 4th floor of the Hunter Student Commons provides a model for spaces and programming that effectively helps students develop an innovation mindset.

Part of The Redeveloped MacKimmie Complex

As part of the ambitious redevelopment of UCalgary's MacKimmie Complex, the university built Hunter Hub's permanent home.

The original 4-story building was built in 1963. In 1970, the building became a complex comprised of a 13-story tower with a link to the adjacent 4-story block. In 2018, UCalgary started the retrofit of the entire complex. The construction team added 2 floors to the tower and completely changed how the building looks and functions with an energy-efficient double-skinned façade. The adjacent block was replaced with a new 4-story building—and became the home of the new Hunter Student Commons. The Commons building, which houses the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, also accommodates the registrar's office and classrooms.

Hunter Hub: The Place for Entrepreneurial Thinking

Hunter Hub is UCalgary’s innovation hub that transforms lives and economies through fostering entrepreneurial thinking in students, faculty, and the community. Students have opportunities to work with start-ups as well as launch their own ventures. As they incubate ideas, they are guided by faculty and experienced entrepreneurs.

How Design Supports Development of an Innovation Mindset

The design of the Hunter Hub plays a key role in how students and staff members work and interact with each other, build skills, and grow their network.

Visitors to the Hub quickly realize UCalgary’s commitment to developing entrepreneurial thinking. The university dedicated one whole floor of the Hunter Student Commons building to the Hub and took care to create a variety of spaces to encourage many kinds of interaction and collaboration.

A popular place within the Hub is the Innovation Sandbox, an area reserved for start-up teams. The versatility of this space makes it ideal for students to relax, meet in small and large groups, and study.

In addition to desks and private meeting rooms, the Sandbox has a kitchen, so entrepreneurial teams can stay well-nourished while nurturing their business ideas. Furniture in the café and open lounge areas provide comfort for students who want to unwind, socialize, collaborate, or connect with others.  

Everyone who’s spent time in high-activity areas knows the value of having nearby spaces for one-to-one conversations, making phone calls, or doing focus work. The Hub’s ancillary spaces are designed specifically for breaking away from a larger group. For example, high-back seating provides places for conversation. Acoustic products, like private Hushoffice booths, provide quiet for making calls or working without interruption.  

The open, multi-use Collision Space in Hunter Hub is designed to host learning events that knit the UCalgary innovation community together. It can be configured as a theater or meeting space, a brainstorming venue, or a reception site for up to 80 people. Students, faculty, and community members know the Collision Space as the place that fosters organic interactions for idea sharing and networking. It’s where they go for deep dives, workshops for entrepreneurs, and idea pitch competitions.

Programs That Position Students for Success

In addition to dedicating space to the Hunter Hub, UCalgary’s investment in entrepreneurial thinking extends to its programs.

One program example is Launchpad, a 6-month co-curricular program that aims to build entrepreneurial thinking skills in undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, and faculty researchers. It’s a platform that helps participants quickly evaluate whether their business ideas are viable and economically feasible. Teaching students how to approach problems, develop solutions, and test them in the market does this.

Bridging the gap between students, schools, and the world of work with Hunter Hub sets up students for success. As students develop their innovation mindset, they increase options for employment and entrepreneurship.

Hunter Hub Sets UCalgary Apart

UCalgary distinguishes itself from other schools with its focus on entrepreneurial thinking. Their focus on the development of an innovation mindset attracts the attention of students who get marketable skills and, in some cases, a platform to launch their own ventures. The university also attracts entrepreneurs seeking students with skills in creative thinking, communication, and collaboration.

Plus, by supporting innovation from ideation to implementation, UCalgary's Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking aims to cultivate and support game-changing innovators and changemakers in Calgary.

Learn more about University of Calgary's MacKimmie Complex

The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking is part of the new Hunter Student Commons located in the renovated and new 400,000 sq. -ft. MacKimmie Complex at the University of Calgary. Discover more about this space story where UCalgary puts students first.


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