Experiential Programs

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship develops experiential learning opportunities to complement and expand traditional academic offerings.

We invite students from all fields of study, Mason alumni, faculty, staff and community members to join us as we explore innovation and entrepreneurship.

Learn more about our experiential programs:

Student Venture Program

The Student Venture Program, Campus Food and Beverage Network (CFBN), provides Mason students with an entrepreneurship education that goes beyond the classroom. We believe that experiential opportunities are the best way to learn about entrepreneurship, the food and beverage industry, and small business. CFBN students work with Mason alumni and regional entrepreneurs to create their products and services and, as with many modern businesses, drive 20 percent of the revenue toward social impact. This year we are focusing our efforts and driving that 20 percent towards combating food insecurity and hunger on campus in collaboration with the Student Support and Advocacy Center’s Patriot Pantry

Student Venture Program students at the Asian Festival on Main in the City of Fairfax.

The Depot

The Depot uses innovation and entrepreneurship to create the roots of a world class, local food system and retail hub as well as a cutting-edge experiential learning program. The Depot is a small farm, food and beverage retail pop-up and program that will make locally grown and produced items available while helping activate and energize underutilized retail real estate in Northern Virginia.  

Center faculty, full-time staff and students will operate the pop-ups and programs, manage vendor relations, inventory and sales, account for the sales and operations, and grow relationships with local suppliers to The Depot. As with all student venture programs, 20 percent of revenue will go to fight food insecurity in the region. A special emphasis will be placed on working with food and beverage businesses owned and operated by members of underserved populations. 

Former Center director David J. Miller, PhD, at the launch of The Depot, a pop-up retail farm store as part of CIE’s focus on the regional food and beverage ecosystem.

Wearable Technology Initiative 

Gamers, fitness enthusiasts, first responders and kidney doctors agree, wearable technologies and related services and software are some of the most exciting and potentially life-changing opportunities for growth and impact. Venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and policy makers concur, and are positioning technology, capital and regulations to convert on all the converging trends. 

Join the Center, the College of Science, and our partners as we begin a hands-on, six-month long exploration of wearable technologies and markets with regular events featuring collaborators from on campus and off, including industry, government and civic sectors. Three to four mini-session and challenges will be offered and will feature collaborators from campus and well beyond. 

Wearable Technology Workshop in MIX, Horizon Hall

Wearable Technology Workshop in MIX, Horizon Hall.

Smart People Still Read Books Book Club 

During the Fall Semester of 2018, we had a simple idea: encourage students to read more. What began as a group of ten or so students and Center team members has grown and continues to gain popularity across campus, extending the Mason student experience. Our book selections provide beyond-the-classroom deep dives into the minds of innovators and entrepreneurs and the ventures they create. Mason students interact on a higher level with peers, Mason alumni, faculty and staff, networking with Mason community friends and partners of the Center. 

CIE Mason Book Club: Smart People Still Read Books. Group discussion on Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry

Group discussion on Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry. 

The Business of Well-being Initiative

According to Mason’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, well-being can be defined as “building a life of vitality, purpose, resilience and engagement.”

From fitness and food producers to home builders and app creators, countless companies and organizations strive to improve well-being for individuals, organizations and large groups of society. We segment ventures by the type of well-being they provide to their customers and have identified six areas of the business of well-being: Emotional/Spiritual, Financial, Physical, Place-Based, Occupational, and Social. 

Have a well-being business idea or early stage idea within the well-being industry? Consider joining our Business of Well-Being Collaborative. 

Join the Collaborative

The Business of Well-Being Collaborative is a year-round initiative working with well-being innovators and entrepreneurs in the Mason community. The Collaborative provides students and alumni of all Mason schools and programs with expanded opportunities to work with other members, mentors, and faculty. 

Benefits of participating in the collaborative include: 

  • Industry mentors specific to team needs and market 
  • Access to seed stipends for customer discovery and development    
  • Faculty support and alumni mentors  
  • A community of peers to grow with and support          
  • Demo days and participation in a range of pitch competitions 

The Collaborative is open to students and alumni of all Mason schools and programs. The Collaborative accepts applications on a year-round basis. Or contact ciemason@gmu.edu for more information. 

Business of Well-Being Collaborative II

The Collaborative is open to students and alumni of all Mason schools and programs. The Collaborative accepts applications on a year-round basis. Or contact ciemason@gmu.edu for more information. 

Plant-Based Taste Tests 

From plants to fungi, and even insects, the alternative to animal-based proteins market has rocketed in popularity and customer demand. With seven taste tests and more in the works, we’ve been building our data set and giving Mason students an opportunity to learn about innovation in science, food, and sustainability.  

Our seven taste tests, now grab-n-go events, have included products from Burger King, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, PLNT Burger, Eat the Change, and more. Participants rate the products in areas of taste, smell, and mouth feel.  

Plant-based protein taste test in Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Plant-based protein taste test hosted by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

National Science Foundation: I-Corps 

NSF I-Corps is a program aimed at teaching university researchers the process of moving from discovery to commercialization. Program participants will use the Lean Launchpad curriculum to assess the commercial viability of opportunities that arise from academic research in the STEM fields by conducting customer interviews and working closely with mentors who have commercialization expertise. View full details here.

Who is Eligible?

Mason students, faculty, staff and alumni that are: 

  • interested in learning about the innovation management & entrepreneurship process; 
  • have a desire to explore viability of technology, innovation or idea; 
  • have the ability to complete I-Corps curriculum; apply; execute in 1-3 intense months ($1,000-$3,000) 

Learn more about the program here

NSF I-Corps

Learn more about the NSF I-Corps program here

Business and Entrepreneurship Learning Community

The Business and Entrepreneurship Learning Community (LC) is our upper-level (sophomore, junior, and senior students) learning community located in Blueridge Hall. The Business and Entrepreneurship LC welcomes students from all fields of study, who are passionate about business and/or entrepreneurship. No course is required for students to be part of this LC. 

Students may become part of any of these LCs by selecting them on their housing application. Please look on the Office of Housing and Residential Life’s website to find the Housing Portal.  

Learn more about School of Business Learning Communities here

Learn more about Learning Communities at Mason here.