From left: Jim Wolfe, Mahesh Joshi and David Miller with Sarah Nutter, dean of the School of Management, during the grand opening of the Mason Innovation Lab.

There’s something brewing on George Mason University’s campus. A brand spankin’ new 24-hour innovation lab just launched this month, a dedicated space that will no doubt serve as a breeding ground for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. It’s a revolutionary idea, one that the university community will be able to take advantage of to grow the startup scene on school grounds.

Appropriately named the Mason Innovation Lab, the on-campus work and learning quarters for students and alumni with the entrepreneurial itch, is hosted in the School of Management in Room 278 of Enterprise Hall. Though based in a building meant for business students, the space is not reserved solely for those seeking an MBA.

“On most campuses there are incubators dedicated to one school. Like at Maryland, they have Mtech,” David Miller, director of the newly established Mason Innovation Lab, explained over the phone. “We’re trying to build a place, a community and some sort of process to help out all entrepreneurs, no matter what school they come from.”

The lab will provide all of the basic necessities, Miller added. “The basic idea is that you get physical space, you will then have a little bit of curriculum and you’ll be matched with an industry expert, depending on your domain, to work with you over the period of the cohort. You’ll also have someone specifically dedicated to working with you on customer development and your business model using a lean startup business model canvas,” he said. Lab users will also receive small stipends that can be used for expenses related to their projects, supporting creativity with financial backing.

Like most other incubators, the Mason Innovation Lab will attract speakers to campus and host a public demo day at the end of the session. What stands out about this fresh concept, though, is that Miller will also take lab members around town to visit entrepreneurs – just like them – who are building their dream ideas from the ground up.

Miller, alongside Mahesh Joshi, director of innovation and entrepreneurship for the School of Management; Hun Lee, associate director for the Center for Global Business; and Jim Wolfe, entrepreneur in residence, is starting an innovation revolution on campus, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will be a success.

The Mason Innovation Lab is already on the lookout for talented startup founders to apply for its first-year class. If you or anybody you know wishes to submit an application, remember that the deadline is April 7. The application is available on the lab’s website, and must include a detailed proposal.


Image via Craig Bisacre/George Mason University