Building on Minnesota's legacy

Fall 2022 Inventing tomorrow
Students in the Toaster Innovation Hub
Located in Walter Library, the Toaster Innovation Hub—with its organized activities and makerspace tools—is free for all University of Minnesota students. Photo by Rebecca Slater

“Apart from having great students, CSE has been involved at various levels,” Halaas said. “From active seats on our steering committee to student-led efforts by organizations like Society for Women Engineers, and partnerships with the Technol- ogy Leadership Institute—to host everything from informal info sessions to summer accelerators— and Anderson Labs to provide hands-on activities and prototyping workshops.”

The Toaster is a joint effort of University of Minnesota Libraries and the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Business that opened February 2020.

“This is a hub where students are encouraged to come together, problem solve, and be inspired to design the next big thing,” said John Stavig, Holmes Center director. “Projects like Telo Design’s innovative approach to the rollator walker provide a concrete example of this vision in action.”

The startup’s founders, who often met in the Toaster as undergrads, saw their concept go from idea to reality by leveraging University resources—including CSE professor Will Durfee’s “New Product Design and Business Development” course, which brings Carlson and CSE students together to develop a product concept, a working prototype, and an extensive business plan.

Telo Design won the general division of MN Cup in 2022. It’s now a step closer to product launch. Plus, one cofounder is sharing lessons learned each Friday in Halaas’ “Innovation for Public Good” class in, you guessed it, the Toaster!