This week DePaul University announced it will open a space in 1871 this fall, joining six other area universities with a permanent space at the Merchandise Mart startup hub.

DePaul’s space at 1871 will be a collaboration between the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center in the Driehaus College of Business, College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM), College of Law, and Academic Affairs. Leadership at DePaul emphasized that this won’t just be an outpost for the business school, but a place for students and faculty from across the university to plug into Chicago’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

“Entrepreneurship is a much larger topic than just the business school,” said Bruce Leech, executive director of the Coleman Center. “We’ve got interest across the university.” 

Entrepreneurship is a much larger topic than just the business school

Students and faculty will have access to a dedicated DePaul office space, as well as 1871’s events, networking, and community. Leech said he anticipates DePaul classes could be held in the space, and faculty are developing educational resources, such as workshops and mentorship, that could be shared with entrepreneurs at 1871. Additionally, DePaul students will get to take part in Campus 1871, an annual weekend hackathon for students at 1871’s member universities.

When Leech started as head of the Coleman Center in March (previously the post was held by Terri Lonier, who’s now at School of the Art Institute, and, briefly, Billy Banks, who’s now at Northwestern’s Garage) he said he was surprised DePaul wasn’t already a part of 1871. The school created one of the first entrepreneurship program in Chicago, and is consistently ranked as a top undergraduate program in the country.

And beyond the business school, Leech heard an interest in entrepreneurship from colleagues across campus.

“I found out there was a fairly strong interest from among all the different colleges, not just from the business school but from the law school, CDM, and even academic affairs that felt we should have a presence there,” he said.

“It is important for the College of Law to be a key partner in this collaboration,”  said Jennifer Rosato Perea, Dean of DePaul’s College of Law in a statement. “We recognize that law, business and technology are inextricably intertwined in today’s world, and lawyers and law students need to problem solve in contexts — like the ones offered at 1871 — where those disciplines all come together.”

Though DePaul recently wrapped up construction on a renovated, innovation-focused space on their Loop campus, having a presence in 1871 will allow students to embed in the external startup community.

“It offers more immediate access to some of the most active entrepreneurial ventures in Chicago,” said Patrick Murphy, professor of management and entrepreneurship at DePaul.

DePaul joins University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Loyola University, University of Illinois, DeVry University and Illinois Institute of Technology at 1871. The space should be open by the end of the summer.