The Research & Innovation Office (RIO) has announced several leadership transitions within the campuswide Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, with Stan Hickory stepping into the role of director of the initiative, a position held by Chris Gustavson since 2019.
While Gustavson is transitioning into a new role at CU Boulder, in which she will lead a comprehensive RIO workforce development strategy, the pair will work together to maintain the gains and momentum achieved under Gustavson’s leadership. As the incoming director, Hickory will also maintain his previous responsibilities as director of the New Venture Challenge (NVC).
Hickory’s 2 years at the helm of the NVC, one of the most impactful and storied components of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, will be invaluable as director of the broader initiative. Additionally, Hickory’s 26 years in education, real-world experience as a five-time business founder and deep knowledge of the Front Range entrepreneurship landscape position him to effectively lead the program and ensure that entrepreneurship opportunities at CU Boulder remain world-class.
“Innovation & Entrepreneurship at CU Boulder is more than what happens here on campus—it is also an integral part of the Front Range startup community,” said Massimo Ruzzene, acting vice chancellor for research and innovation and dean of the institutes. “As NVC director for the past few years, Stan has already developed successful collaborations with the local and regional startup communities—collaborations that he can now build on to create winning programs for our students, faculty and staff, as well as the greater startup community.”
The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative connects, elevates and grows CU Boulder’s vast innovation and entrepreneurial resources to help students, faculty and staff turn ideas to impactful ventures.
Campus-led events and programs like the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Campus Kickoff, NVC and Catalyze CU are boosted by the initiative, which also partners closely with Venture Partners at CU Boulder, the campus’ research commercialization arm, as well as a range of academic partners, mentors and other community partners.
While serving as director of the initiative, Gustavson established and cultivated numerous impactful partnerships and programs across campus and the community to elevate CU Boulder’s common Innovation & Entrepreneurship vision, with a continuous lens on the student experience. Working in lockstep with colleges, career services, undergraduate education and many others helped Gustavson drive pilots and quickly scale wins including the recent student “Design Your Path” residential hall immersive experience and design thinking curricula.
“Chris has been an inspirational leader and phenomenal steward of Innovation & Entrepreneurship programs and resources, both on campus and in the broader community,” Hickory said. “I look forward to building on what she accomplished and continuing to strengthen CU’s reputation as a national and global leader in innovation and entrepreneurship.”