Proposals Are Now Being Accepted for New Innovation Lab

Posted: October 21, 2013 at 5:03 am, Last Updated: October 22, 2013 at 6:59 am

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By Jennifer Anzaldi

We’ve all heard the stories about innovative leaders brainstorming by building with blocks or playing games to promote groundbreaking ideas. Now George Mason University’s School of Management is looking to bring some of that “play time” to George Mason. In an effort to continue its commitment to innovation, the School of Management has established the new Mason Innovation Lab, which will open in January with the start of the spring 2014 semester.

The School of Management recently received a $25,000 grant from the Northern Virginia Community Foundation to fund the first year of the lab’s operation, and has amassed additional donations from alumna Cheryl Amyx, BA Speech Communication ’85, entrepreneur and former president and founder of Amyx Inc.; and friends of the School of Management, local entrepreneur Joe Travez of Prototype Productions, and Ali Saadat, president of FedBid.

The School of Management’s Center for Global Business will manage this venture, which aims to generate original ideas from across Mason’s broad community and to encourage them toward commercialization. The Innovation Lab team currently consists of Robert Grosse, director, Center for Global Business; Hun Lee, associate director, Center for Global Business; Mahesh Joshi, associate professor and director, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program; and Jim Wolfe, assistant professor and entrepreneur-in-residence.

The new lab will establish a physical location on Mason’s Fairfax Campus where students, faculty and alumni can come together to work on ideas and entrepreneurial projects. Space and limited equipment will be offered for one semester to individuals who propose specific innovation projects. Renewals may be requested if needed. The lab organizers hope to support a dozen projects in the first year of operation of the Innovation Lab, which will be located in Enterprise Hall, room 278.

The lab will include about two dozen work areas where participants can set up their own computers and have access to desks, printers and internet connectivity. Each work space will house two to three people on 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. Lab organizers hope to involve alumni and other entrepreneurs from the community, since they would also be excellent resources to help the student teams work on their projects. These individuals would serve as “advisors” who could meet with the student teams monthly to 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,” says Grosse. “Successful innovators may even be able to move on to the Mason Enterprise Center (a small-business development center also on the Fairfax 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 for the spring 2014 semester. For more information or to submit an application, visit the Innovation Lab website.

Write to Colleen Kearney Rich at ckearney@gmu.edu

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