Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation (CLEI)

"Inspiring innovation through education"

Imagine going to work every day and doing something you are passionate about and feel a calling to do. The Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation (CLEI), which was established by Roanoke College in 2003, is committed to helping students discover their vocational passions and interests and providing them with the educational tools needed to turn their ideas into viable innovations and businesses. Through college courses, intensive learning experiences, independent studies, internships, job shadowing and exposure to professional subject matter experts across a wide range of disciplines, students are encouraged to pursue their interests through entrepreneurial expression. Throughout their educational journey at Roanoke College, entrepreneurial minded students are taught creative problem solving, the value of collaborative teamwork, organizational leadership, market analysis and strategic planning. Underpinning all these educational experiences is a solid foundation in leadership principles ranging from business ethics to team dynamics. 

The current economic challenges we face as a nation serve as a reminder that traditional employment pathways of the past may not be as viable as we move into the future. Therefore, it is crucial to provide other avenues for students to consider for meaningful employment and long-term career satisfaction. There is no better alternative than providing students with the educational knowledge, skills and experiences required to help them create their own business. As an academic center of excellence, CLEI is committed to helping students unleash their potential through creative innovations and entrepreneurial exploration.

Contact Information

Center Director - Betsy Parkins: | 540-375-4908

Local entrepreneur talks to roanoke faculty

Roanoke College Innovation Challenge

The Roanoke College Innovation Challenge has been established with a creative partnership between Roanoke College and local businesses to form a private industry innovation engine. Each summer, approximately ten to sixteen students from Roanoke College and other top academic institutions are offered the unique opportunity to participate in this innovation challenge.

Participants are divided into teams and given the task to develop a comprehensive business plan for a new product innovation.

Past projects include a system that transforms the way devices are powered by eliminating the need for power cords, cosmetics and jewelry that change colors to complement a person's attire or mood manufactured from a photochromic compound, solar-panel cell phone chargers and many service-based businesses.

Monthly Entrepreneurial Experience Speaker

This program brings onto campus each month during the academic year a local or national entrepreneur who shares his or her experiences with students during a lunch Q & A panel.  Speakers use their experiences to teach and encourage students who have a desire to pursue entrepreneurial passions.