Regents Approve Design Concept, Budget for Creative Labs and Industries Incubator

2013_news_Creative LabsCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 26, 2014 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved the design concept and budget for a proposed Creative Labs and Industries Incubator and authorized administration to proceed with construction documents.

The Creative Labs and Industries Incubator will support experiential activities that promote creativity, innovation and the development of an entrepreneurial mindset among students from across disciplines, said Dr. Bill Eddleman, Southeast provost.

The facility, to be located in a two-story building at 612/616 Broadway, will provide unique opportunities for students to interact with student and community consultants as they work on core functions of design, merchandising, media development, marketing, accounting, financial management and other concepts

The University contracted with KAI Design & Build to provide design development services to renovate the property. The retail component of the facility will operate out of the first floor, along with a beverage center and printing press area, exposing students to print formats from letterpress to digital. A classroom/meeting space will be available on both the first and second floors to accommodate student and faculty gatherings, along with community activities. The second floor will provide open areas for group collaboration, and design and production studios to be shared by occupants of the facility.

The 13,320-square foot building will require structural upgrades and repairs, Eddleman said. Total cost of construction, including fixtures and equipment, is $1.49 million. Total cost of the project, including the cost of the building purchase and grant administration services, is $1.73 million, he said.

The University has received private donations and state grants totaling $1.25 million for the project. In addition, $50,000 from revenues received from the University’s existing printing contract will be committed to the project, Eddleman said. Because the project is multi-disciplinary, $100,000 from the annual funding set aside for academic remodeling projects will be committed, along with $125,000 in one-time dollars from Academic Affairs annual operating budget carryovers. The University also will contribute $205,000 of one-time funds set aside for campus master plan projects, he said.

Construction documents are expected to be completed and the project bid in September. Construction is anticipated to be completed in spring 2015, Eddleman said.

The facility’s design will incorporate specialized work space that will support experiential activities that take students from the idea and concept stage, to prototyping and product/service development, to commercialization, he said. The final phase, commercialization, will take advantage of flexible retail space built into the design.

The distinctive incubator space will incorporate an open floor plan that provides flexibility to accommodate any future curriculum changes and promotes interaction between and among students, faculty members, practicing entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the academic programming being developed is consistent with the priority guiding the current work of the University’s Academic Visioning Committee,” Eddleman said.

The Creative Labs and Industries Incubator cultivates creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship by connecting interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty and practitioners in a rich array of courses, collaborative projects and competitions, and a business learning laboratory that provides students truly entrepreneurial experiences, Eddleman said.

“The Creative Labs provide extraordinary opportunities for students to collaborate in disciplines normally separated by educational structures, in entrepreneurial and business activities often left out of traditional curricula,” he said. “This unique interdisciplinary model will produce a learning environment that provides students many valuable experiences.”

Eddleman says a group of students and faculty from several academic programs offered by four departments across four colleges developed the project concept. Ten faculty members make up a Faculty Advisory Group that has worked extensively to create multiple academic and co-curricular pathways for students to make the most of the opportunities available at the Creative Labs, he said. Programs represented include hospitality management, graphic design, foundations of art, interior design, marketing, commercial photography, engineering technology, human resource management, ceramics, accounting, painting, fashion merchandising, printmaking, entrepreneurship and sculpture. Planned programming incorporates 24 different courses.

He said students have contributed to the design and development of the Creative Labs from the outset. As construction and renovation begin, students will participate in class activities and projects, independent studies and internships that could involve naming, logo and brand development of the commercial operation; design, selection and construction of interior finishes, lighting, fixtures and furniture; design and construction of a gourmet coffee and juice bar to be open to the public; and design and development of social media and websites.

Students, he added, will participate in class activities and projects, independent studies and internships involving:

  • Startup ventures: development and creation of innovative startup businesses;
  • An art gallery: design, creation and sales of painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, digital media and photography;
  • A retail boutique: design, creation and reselling unique apparel and accessories
  • A letter press print shop: graphic design and letter press operation
  • A 3D Studio: prototyping, retail and artistic products
  • A gourmet coffee and juice bar: product development and operations
  • Commercial photography, graphic design and interior design: to support Creative Labs projects
  • Marketing, human resources and accounting services: to support Creative Labs projects

Students also will participate in student organizations, networking and mentoring activities with peers and practitioners, and business model and idea competitions, Eddleman said.

The roots for the Creative Labs and Industries Incubator began in 1996 when the Board of Regents approved the establishment of the Center for Entrepreneurship and a minor in entrepreneurship for undergraduate business majors. Since then, the Board has approved the naming of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the establishment of five focused or specialized minors in entrepreneurship that connect academic programming with faculty and undergraduate students across campus and an option in entrepreneurship under the MBA program. In 2013, the Board approved the establishment of the Institute for Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship to expand non-credit outreach to foster the growth of microenterprise business development in this multi-state region based on the Kaufman Foundation’s Operation Jump Start curriculum.

For the past two years, Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, has been developing the concept of a Creative Labs and Industries Incubator.