by William Golden

Innovation: Inside an Incubator

Jan 01, 20072 mins

Where innovative ideas grow big and strong.

We asked Mitch Davis, CIO at Bowdoin College, how he designed and equipped his innovation incubator space. His reply: “You have to create a space that’s welcoming, where people can walk in and not feel like they’re intruding. It’s designed as a large central space with offices attached to it, including mine. We have comfortable couches and modern, collapsible furniture. One piece in particular is a wooden table that opens up in the middle and expands from a four-person to an eight-person table. We’ve also mounted pictures on the walls that showcase successful projects we’ve completed and awards we’ve won.

“We have whiteboards, of course, and five desktop computers available, both Macs and PCs. Any equipment the college has acquired over the years is available through the incubator—cameras, laptops, high-end video production equipment, a portable sound studio, wireless transmitters. And when there’s a project that I think is worth investment, I have a budget to use to build a custom software or hardware system. I’ve even involved our machine shop to create mounts for hardware.

“You need to have staff in the incubator so that if someone needs something, there’s someone there to help. I have an open-door policy should anyone need or want to speak with me.”