Startup Spokane Feature: Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Highlight: Lars Gilberts

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

No foreigner to community development and entrepreneurship, Lars feels at home in his new role as Executive Director of Spokane's University District and as a member of Startup Spokane's new Mind to Market program. 

From milking goats at the age of 6 at nearby farms in his hometown of Clayton, WA to bolstering the community engagement efforts of nearly three dozen United Way locations in Florida, Lars has embraced roles involving startups and community collaboration all over the world. His diverse skill set and experiences will be a great asset to the Mind to Market program, which seeks to enhance and sustain idea flow through strategic partnerships between businesses, higher education, and the community in general.

Part of Lars' focus as a member of the Mind to Market program is its economic development potential. "How can we do things more efficiently, more effectively, to bring manufacturing back to the US?" Lars asks. The answer, he notes, will be found in process innovation which could result in significant economic recovery in an industry that has been flagging in the US in recent years. The ultimate hope would be a return of American preeminence in specific sectors in the manufacturing industry - timber, aluminum, etc. - through business-led innovation.


For Lars, perhaps the most exciting part of the Mind to Market program is its involvement of intercollegiate, interdisciplinary groups of university students in addressing real-world problems. "I want no idea to be wasted!" Lars exclaims, not attempting to hide his excitement. Passionate about providing students (a term Lars believes is far too one-dimensional to describe college-age entrepreneurs) with sufficient resources and support needed to grow their idea, he believes they could be a dynamic force. "Students in these entrepreneurial ventures see these problems that aren't focused on by the original business and they want to do something about it. If they know they have the support, then we have an economic driver that really starts to gain some momentum."


There is plenty of excitement around the Mind to Market program and much more can be said about it. An in-depth conversation with Lars and Scott Gordon, EWU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, can be found on our website here.