Photo by Nate Van Wagnen

The lab, designed as an open concept with multiple levels of seating and bright natural light, resulted from a $1 million donation from Cleveland company Weston Inc.

Feb. 4, 2019

Weston Ideation Lab opens for business

The Monte Ahuja College of Business’ new Weston Ideation Lab opened its doors to students returning to campus for the spring 2019 semester. The result of a seven-month construction project, the Ideation Lab is a learning laboratory geared toward students with an entrepreneurial spirit.

The Ideation Lab, made possible by a $1 million gift from Weston Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial property owner and developer, is the college’s latest initiative to encourage startup businesses by students, faculty and alumni.
“We have three main goals with the Weston Ideation Lab,” said Colette Hart, senior director, College of Business Centers for Outreach and Engagement.

“The first is to give students a place to experience the creative thinking processes involved in starting a business.”
She continued, saying, “the second goal is to provide a space that has the resources to help someone launch a company if they really want to. The third goal is to help emphasize and engage our faculty across the university to be more entrepreneurial in the way we approach education and new initiatives.”

Hart emphasized that the lab’s resources are available to all students, not just those in the business majors. For example, the lab can help engineering students determine the value of an idea developed during a capstone course, then find ways to take it to market.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship isn’t a single discipline; it’s multi-disciplinary,” Hart said. “Any of the programming here would support students across campus.”

The lab works with other groups on campus to help students accomplish their goals. Students can be referred to the Small Business Development Center for legal and financial guidance, the Washkewicz College of Engineering’s Dan T. Moore MakerSpace for prototyping of products, or the Technology Transfer Office for intellectual property advice.

“The Weston Ideation Lab is the front door for CSU students and our alums looking to start a business,” Hart said, “but we’re just part of a larger ecosystem.”

“We want to make sure we can inform students that all these pathways exist,” she continued, “and that we are building a robust ecosystem to support innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The college enlisted the expertise of Michael Thompson, an architect who specializes in collaborative spaces, to design the Ideation Lab. The open workspaces of tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon inspired its layout.

“Spaces that are open tend to create unique areas of collaboration and teamwork,” Hart said. “It creates a place where you want to think and share your ideas. Everything in this space was very purposeful, from the cool lighting to the glass writing boards.”

The Weston Ideation Lab is open to students throughout the week. The lab will celebrate its grand opening Thursday, Feb. 28.


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