How VectorGen Positively Impacted Business Growth With “Nice to Haves”

September 9, 2020

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, there are several low priority ideas that are categorized as “nice to haves.” However, with limited resources and time, these nice to haves are always pushed further and further to the side of your desk. 

For Laura Prendergast, she knew that these small, incremental “nice to haves” could add up and positively impact business growth. Along with hundreds of other small business owners on Riipen, Laura uses the power of students and Riipen to take on new and exciting opportunities. Students are learning many of the things that Laura is seeking support on, and the students are hungry to apply their knowledge into something more real-world than a textbook case study. 

Sitting down with Laura:

Laura Prendergast is the Founder and CEO of VectorGen based in Albany, New York. VectorGen is a biotechnology startup with the ultimate mission of developing a delivery vehicle to confer therapeutic genetic material to combat viruses that afflict humans. They are currently focused on delivering genetic material to protect against the HIV virus. 

As Founder of VectorGen, Laura decided to include a number of projects under the VectorGen umbrella. These projects vary widely in nature and include: design of an electronic voice-programmable alarm to protect belongings and a video-based role-playing educational game for learning principles of American government.

Which higher education institutions have you engaged with so far?

  • Arizona State University
  • Saint Leo University
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic
  • University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Suffolk University
  • Florida Southern College

From your most recent project, what was the main question you were looking to answer through this engagement?

I'm looking for a demo version of an application to streamline the provision of benefits for homeless persons.

How was your experience using the Riipen marketplace to match with an academic partner?

Excellent. I've had a lot of good interactions with the students who are fairly responsive and responsible.

How was your experience managing the project using Riipen tools such as Chat, Milestones, Resources, and Teams (if applicable)?

We used Teams - I think it's a really great interface.

How was your experience working with students and educators?

I've worked with several groups of students with different levels of interaction - from weekly meetings to a presentation every couple of months. I was impressed by the students' hard work and their level of competence.

How were the final deliverables?

The quality of the final deliverables was overall quite good. I am particularly grateful to the group who worked on the website for my company, VectorGen. View the student deliverables on Riipen's Student Showcase.

What have you actioned or plan to action from the students' insights/recommendations? What were the results (if any)?

I intend to launch the StreetCard application as a pilot project in the Albany, New York area. I hope to demonstrate to service providers that this will save taxpayer dollars and improve services.

What would you do differently in future projects?

I'm not quite sure. I think the work I've had done so far is topnotch!


A huge thank you to Laura for speaking with us and sharing your experience. To learn more about Riipen and how to get started with experiential learning, visit our website and keep up with Riipen on Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and Facebook.

About the Author

Jan Natividad leads the Marketing team at Riipen. He considers himself a lifelong learner and an advocate for growth. His passion for storytelling extends beyond his work in marketing. Despite (almost) rubbing shoulders with Marion Cotillard at the Cannes Film Festival, he’s just a humble tech enthusiast, avid traveler (pre-pandemic), and proud dog dad.