We've all heard the stories about top innovative leaders brainstorming by building with blocks or playing games in recreation areas to promote innovative ideas. And now, George Mason School of Business is looking to bring some of that "playing" to Mason. In an effort to continue its commitment to innovation, the School of Business has established the new Mason Innovation Lab which will open in January with the start of the spring 2014 semester.
The School of Business recently received a $25,000 grant from the Northern Virginia Community Foundation for the first year of the project and has additional donations from alumna Cheryl Amyx '85, entrepreneur and former president and founder of Amyx, Inc., and friends of the School of Business, local entrepreneur Joe Travez of Prototype Productions, and Ali Saadat, President of FedBid.
The idea of the project is to establish a physical location on Mason's Fairfax campus where students, professors, and alumni can come together to work on innovations and entrepreneurial projects that are intended to lead to start-up businesses.
Space and limited equipment will be offered for one-semester periods of time to students, faculty, and alumni who propose specific innovation projects. Renewals may be requested if needed. The project team hopes to operate a dozen projects in the first year of operation of the Innovation Lab, which will be located in Enterprise Hall room 278.
The School of Business' Center for Global Business will manage this venture, which aims to generate innovations from across Mason's broad community and to encourage them toward commercialization. The project team currently consists of Robert Grosse, director, Center for Global Business; Hun Lee, associate director of the center; Mahesh Joshi, associate professor and director, innovation and entrepreneurship program; and Jim Wolfe, assistant professor and entrepreneur-in-residence.
The Innovation Lab will include about two dozen work areas where participants can set up their own computers and have access to a printer, internet, and desk furniture. Each work space will house 2-3 people from a team.
"We envision white boards for drawing, a lounge area for people from different projects to relax together and talk, and 'play areas' including blocks, tinker toys, and other physical items that could be used to dream up mechanical or conceptual ideas," says Grosse. "I'd like to see this space become our own 'Mason Play Place.'"
Students will have to compete for space by submitting a proposal. Once accepted, each team of students will be assigned a professor who will be their mentor and help oversee their projects to bring them to fruition. The team also hopes to involve alumni and other entrepreneurs from the community, since they would also be excellent resources to help the student teams in their work on the projects. These individuals would serve as "advisors" who could meet with the student teams monthly to learn about the project, offer guidance, and support their efforts.
"Our hopes are that occupants of the space will complete their projects within the semester and that could then lead to a product launch after that," said Grosse. "Successful innovators may even be able to move on to the Mason Enterprise Center (a small-business development center also on the Mason campus), which could help the company toward growing and producing profits."
The Mason Innovation Lab is accepting proposals until November 24 from students who want to reserve workspace within the lab for the spring 2014 semester. Learn more about the Mason Innovation Lab.
George Mason's School of Business' Center for Global Business strives to advance research, curriculum, and outreach activities focused on global business. The center focuses on fostering relationships with academic institutions and private and public organizations around the globe to generate mutually beneficial research, teaching, and learning opportunities; educating and developing the next generation of global executives and leaders; and becoming the source of and transferring knowledge to current global executives and leaders. Learn more about the center and innovation and entrepreneurship at Mason.