Back in 2016, when Donne and Sue Fisher first spoke with the University of Wyoming and IMPACT 307 about starting an entrepreneurial program for UW students, they likely had little idea that their generosity would help launch so many young entrepreneurs’ careers through the Fisher Innovation Challenge, later termed the Fisher Innovation Launchpad.
The Fisher Innovation Launchpad focuses on encouraging UW students to propose entrepreneurial and innovation-based businesses, with winners receiving start-up capital and resources to turn their business ideas into reality.
The Fisher Innovation Launchpad was the first entrepreneurial competition of its kind here in Wyoming. Since launching in 2016, it has made a significant impact on the entrepreneurial community, fostering new and innovative businesses throughout the state. Currently, it has awarded 26 finalists and Wyoming business ventures with vital funding and business resources. That number will increase when this year’s finalists present their business ideas at the Fisher Innovation Launchpad Pitch Day in April 2021.
After witnessing the success of the program, additional complementary launchpads expanded the efforts of IMPACT 307. The Casper Start-Up Challenge and Sheridan Start-Up Challenge were launched soon after in late 2016 and 2017. In 2019, the Southeast Wyoming Innovation Launchpad (SEWYIL) was created to support community members and students at Laramie County Community College in Albany and Laramie counties. SEWYIL finalists, like all IMPACT startup challenge finalists, receive access to a seed fund, business counseling and help navigating community resource. The Microbial Ecology Collaborative Startup Launchpad (MECSL), funded through the National Science Foundation, was created in 2019 to focus on innovation ideas in the fields of ecology, environmental sustainability, natural resource management, or data science on the Wind River Indian Reservation and across the state. Also funded through NSF, the Wind River Wind River Indian Reservation and across the state. Startup Challenge launched the same year to provide startup capital and business guidance to Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal members.
Born out of a need for diversification in Wyoming, the launchpad platforms continue to support entrepreneurial growth throughout Wyoming. Learn more about all the IMPACT 307 start-up platforms here.