WATERVILLE — Colby College has announced an academic program aimed at fostering budding entrepreneurs in a move that could increase the school’s presence in downtown Waterville.

The Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship is the result of a donation from Todd Halloran, a 1984 Colby graduate who is a senior advisory partner at a Los Angeles-based private equity firm.

Todd Halloran, a 1984 graduate of Colby College, has given a donation that will result in the formation of the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship at Colby. The lab is expected to launch next year. Photo courtesy of Colby College

“This lab will build a bridge between the essence of a liberal arts education — analytical thinking, communication skills, historical perspective — and skills that can help students develop their aspirational ideas and bring them to fruition,” Halloran said in a statement issued by the college. “The goal is to complement and combine Colby’s exceptional liberal arts curriculum with experiences that introduce the tools needed to start and run a successful enterprise.”

The program is expected to offer training and a variety of opportunities for students beginning next year.

The lab will also “help establish the development of an internal entrepreneurship ecosystem involving alumni, faculty, staff and Colby community members, as well as partnerships with companies, organizations and institutions that can further its mission,” the college said in a statement.

“We’re thinking about options and opportunities for how the Halloran Lab can connect with economic and community development efforts underway in Waterville,” a college spokesman wrote Monday in an email. “Our goal is to help create a critical mass of entrepreneurs and innovators that will attract and retain talented young people and create new businesses and new jobs in the city.”


With organizations such as Dirigo Labs establishing programs and spaces for new companies to develop and grow, the college is “excited at the possibility of collaboration including the potential for a physical presence downtown,” the spokesman said.

The U.S. Small Business Administration says small businesses have accounted for 65% of new net job creation since 2000 and 44% of the country’s economic activity. Employees of small businesses also make up 47% of private-sector workers.

An important goal for the Halloran Lab is that it be connected to what the college describes as a burgeoning startup community in Waterville, according to organizers.

“We also hope that some of Colby’s budding entrepreneurs who are part of the lab will decide to continue to build their companies in Waterville after they graduate,” the college spokesman said. “While there are already a fair amount of entrepreneurs in the region who are Colby alumni, we expect this initiative to add and grow that community.”

The college is seeking a director for the lab, and an advisory board is being established that will work to provide students with access to mentors, working opportunities and funding sources for their initiatives.

Should the Halloran Lab ultimately have a presence in downtown Waterville, it would further increase the college’s footprint there. Downtown already has a building housing Colby students, a new space where artists can collaborate and an upscale hotel, among other initiatives.

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