A Lab Made for Dreamers, Makers and Doers
Entrepreneurs and startups have a new home in the Weston Ideation Lab, a space designed around the unique needs of venture development.
Located in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Monte Ahuja College of Business, the collaborative, interdisciplinary learning laboratory helps students explore entrepreneurship through coursework, workshops, a speaker series and additional Engaged Learning opportunities. It also provides external entrepreneurs with access to business mentors, prototyping services, legal and patent advice and business plan development.
The lab was made possible by a gift from Weston Inc., one of the region’s largest privately held industrial property developers. CSU also received a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation to support entrepreneurship programming.
At the ribbon-cutting, CSU President Harlan Sands called the lab “a destination for dreamers, makers and doers; a place where ideas are tested, validated and transformed into reality.”
Board of Trustees chairman David Gunning noted, “Universities are hotbeds for incubating new ideas and testing theories. Innovation and entrepreneurship skill sets are part of an essential tool kit for college graduates in today’s knowledge economy.”
Alumnus Tony Asher, JD ’63, represented the Asher Family, founders of Weston Inc.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy,” he said. “The curriculum and hands-on learning in this lab will facilitate more startup companies which will grow the economy and CSU’s reputation.”
The Weston Ideation Lab enhances the range of Engaged Learning, outreach and research programs in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Ahuja College of Business. This includes an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship curriculum featuring internship opportunities with local startups and business incubators, the Startup Vikes business plan competition and the CSU Small Business Development Center which provides business plan support and market analysis for new startups.
Three startup companies were winners in the sixth-annual Startup Vikes event. They received a cash infusion and prize package that includes time at local business accelerators.
Taking first place was NEO Physique (pictured left), which seeks to provide “smart,” motorized exercise equipment that will not only optimize a workout but will be safer, more energy and time efficient, cost effective and take up less space than traditional workout equipment.
In second place was Vol, an app designed to build communities of service in the digital age. The Vol platform is designed to align potential volunteers with opportunities that can help them acquire marketable skills or make their communities better.
Third place went to Wrist Heal, a medical device to help with wrist issues without the use of creams or traditional braces.
“Now the real work begins,” notes Katie Van Dyke, director of CSU’s Small Business Development Center. “Participants now begin refining their business models, either at the SBDC, the Weston Ideation Lab or at other accelerators.”
Community sponsors of Startup Vikes included the main funder, Burton D. Morgan Foundation, as well as Flashstarts, PickFu, Aladdin’s Eatery, Pepsi, Jumpstart, Inc., CLE Urban Winery, Ohio Small Business Development Centers, LaunchHouse and the Dedinsky Family Foundation.