Innovation Collaboratory

Creating Opportunities. Advancing Solutions.

About the Innovation Collaboratory

In spring 2018, the Department of Agricultural Education began offering its entrepreneurial leadership and innovation courses in the newly created Innovation Collaboratory. The Collaboratory, which is located in Saguaro Hall, Room 127, was created in 2018 with support from the Dorrance Scholarship Program. This unique learning space is designed to enhance the development of CALS students, faculty, and statewide stakeholders in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurial leadership. In particular, the Collaboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art collaborative learning technologies and resources that foster creativity, ingenuity, and higher order strategic thinking. In addition to hosting entrepreneurial leadership and innovation courses, the Collaboratory will support a series of faculty and student workshops aimed at increasing the entrepreneurial activities and innovative initiatives across CALS. Dr. Matthew Mars, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Leadership and Innovation, is the Founder and Academic Director of the Collaboratory and Mr. Emre Toker, CALS Innovator-in-Residence, is the Managing Director. For more information on the Innovation Collaboratory, please contact Dr. Mars at Innovation Collaboratory: Creating Opportunities. Advancing Solutions.

Matthew Mars

Dr. Matthew Mars, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Leadership and Innovation, is the Founder and Director of the Innovation Collaboratory. Dr. Mars has over a decade of experience teaching innovation and entrepreneurial leadership courses (undergraduate and graduate level) using collaborative and project-based learning approaches and designs. This experience  directly informs the flexible and interactive design of the Collaboratory. Dr. Mars maintains an active research agenda that intersects innovation and entrepreneurial leadership with community development, education, and localism. His research has been published in a diverse range of journals that include Agriculture and Human Values, Journal of Higher Education, Journal of Management Inquiry, Organizational Dynamics, and Rural Sociology. For more information, please visit his faculty webpage at:

Emre Toker

 As managing director of the Collaboratory, Emre Toker is the inaugural Mentor-in-Residence of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  He founded 3 successful life sciences companies and invested in and mentored numerous other successful startups.  Through the Innovation Collaboratory, Toker will guide practical workshops in both classroom and online settings, connect faculty and students with other mentors and experts, provide opportunities for one-on-one discussions, and facilitate connections between the UA and local and national innovation and entrepreneurship partners —including angel investor groups, industry, start-ups, Tech Launch Arizona, StartUp Tucson and venture capital firms.

Tyler Thorp

As the research and teaching assistant for the innovation classes and curriculum, Tyler Thorp is a Ph.D. student in the Agricultural Education and Higher Education dual program. She is available as a peer mentor for students and to facilitate research and development for the innovation collaboratory to ensure the programs are constantly evolving and adapting to new technologies and insights. 

ALC 410/510: Entrepreneurial Leadership in Agriculture and the Life Science

This course is an exploration of the principles and practices of entrepreneurial leadership, and the application of such principles and practices within agricultural and rural communities, the cooperative extension system, educational organizations and systems, agricultural agencies at the local, state, and federal levels, and agricultural enterprises and life sciences industries. Emphasis is placed on the knowledge and skills required to effectively lead and sustain change and impact within and across organizations, communities, and settings that intersect the agricultural and life sciences fields. 


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