The Innovation Lab provides selected project teams of exceptional promise opportunities to develop and ultimately launch their initiatives with the support of faculty and public/private innovation leaders. The fellowship consists of a three-credit course in the fall semester (usually of the sophomore year), intensive mentorship with Honors College Director of Innovation, Mukesh Patel, over the course of the year and potentially longer, and access to venture start-up funds.
The Innovation Lab is dedicated to nurturing and implementing social innovation projects developed in the Honors College Forum. Other proposals can be considered as long as at least one project leader is a student in the Honors College. Through the Innovation Lab, students will gain access to opportunities such as mentorships, research, seed funding, attendance at industry conferences, exposure to industry leaders, and more. They will also be able to work in a mini-maker space located within the Honors College to develop materials, designs, models, and prototypes related to their projects.
Interested teams must apply to be considered for the Innovation Lab. Applications will be judged according to the credibility and commitment of the team, and the strength of the project proposal itself. Projects will be evaluated by a committee composed of the Director of Innovation, the Honors College deans, faculty, and public-private partners and professional advisers according to Innovation and Challenge Criteria/Project Guidelines:
- Topicality: How well does it address or solve the problem? In what ways is the problem relevant and important?
- Uniqueness: How original is the proposal? Who else is already addressing this challenge, and with what results?
- Significance: What is the scope and potential benefit of the project?
- Administration: How will it be implemented? What business or organizational model is being employed?
- Funding: Can it gain necessary financial and resource support?
- Enforcement: What metrics will be used for assessment to determine success?
- Consequences: What are the local, cultural, and ethical impacts of the project?
- Team: Is the team diverse in terms of complementary skill sets, experiences, majors, and/ or strengths? Will team members be able to meet on a regular schedule?
- Feasibility and Viability: Does the concept appear to be viable enough for a prototype or pilot to launch within one semester? Does it appear to have innovation and entrepreneurial qualities that can succeed in the marketplace and competitions? Is the concept too technically complex?
Only the most promising projects will be accepted and supported: the expectation is five groups per year, involving a total of about 25 students. The formal Innovation Lab will conclude at the end of the Fall semester, at which time the students should have a minimum viable product, i.e. a detailed prototype, product, or service, and a calendar indicating an anticipated launch date. All projects demonstrating significant progress will continue to receive support in the Spring semester. After that, projects will be assessed at the end of each semester to determine what, if any, subsequent support they will receive.
Teams consist of three to seven students and need not include all students from an initial Honors College Forum project.
The selection committee reserves the right to recommend combining teams sharing similar interests or to suggest additional members for teams. Individuals who are not part of a team may express interest in being placed on a team, though there is no guarantee of a particular role, by contacting Administrative Dean Paul Gilmore | firstname.lastname@example.org.