International pioneers of cutting-edge inventions and breakthrough products will be showcased collectively for the first time in Washington State University’s new, interactive “Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hall of Fame.”

“We believe this will be the first center in the world to highlight the accomplishments of these very dynamic and creative people,” said WSU College of Business and Economics Dean Len Jessup.

Jessup and Gus Grant, co-founder of Sprint and a 1941 WSU alumnus, announced plans Sept. 10 to create the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hall of Fame while at the college’s inaugural meeting of its national board of advisers in Seattle.

Grant has been a driving force behind WSU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative, which will leverage the expertise of the business college’s top-ranked entrepreneurship program to infuse entrepreneurial, creative and problem-solving thinking into some 245 fields of study university-wide. Jessup and the CBE have been charged with leading the initiative by WSU President V. Lane Rawlins and Provost Robert Bates.

“The initiative inspires every student in every undergraduate major and graduate program to literally think about their subjects in new ways and to develop an awareness of how to apply that when starting and/or conducting business at every level,” Jessup said. “As they develop their ideas and careers, they will help ensure sustained national innovation and economic successes.”

The cornerstone of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative at WSU is a dedicated state-of-the-art learning facility known as the Grant Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Its Hall of Fame will serve as the striking and engaging entrance to the building. It will lead visitors and students into state-of-the-art learning spaces in the Collaborative Learning Center, where traditional classrooms will be replaced by reconfigurable and resizable suites designed to foster and support brainstorming, collaboration, analyses and high-tech presentations.

“Unlike traditional, static tribute facilities, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hall of Fame will have a radical and unique structural design and use cutting-edge information technologies to enable interactive computer-based displays,” Grant said.

Some aspects of the hall were inspired by Microsoft co-founder and WSU alumnus Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project in Seattle.

“Visitors to the Hall of Fame will actually experience the ideas, creativity and vision of the pioneers of entrepreneurship and innovation. The digital Hall of Fame will bring all of those to life.”

“Importantly, the Hall of Fame will also provide a powerful vehicle for teaching and learning. Students in the Grant Institute will be involved directly in the design, construction and management of the hall,” Jessup said

WSU is a fitting home to the Grant Institute’s Hall of Fame and Collaborative Learning Center. The university has a long tradition of educating and fostering entrepreneurship among its students. In addition to Grant and Allen, other distinguished alumni include J. Elroy McCaw (’34 Business), founder of McCaw Cellular Communications; Gaymond Schultz (’63 Engineering), founder of both Stratacom and Vina Technologies; and XMLFund founder David Pool (’85 Business). Connexion by Boeing President Scott Carson (’72 Business), also an alumnus, chairs the CBE National Board of Advisors.

The Grant Institute project is already in motion. Initial funding and the commitment of a facility were secured in 2003, planning and design are underway, and renovation and construction is scheduled to begin in 2005.