At Penn State, a Former Frat House Becomes an 'Ideas Incubator'
Imagine as many as 60 entrepreneurial college students living under a single roof and being mentored by successful professionals in their chosen fields. That's the idea behind a social living project called co.space in State College, Pennsylvania.
Starting in fall 2013, the world's first co.space will be housed in a former Penn State fraternity house, and will even include two "chapter staff," like house moms, to chaperone the eclectic group of individuals. But the group has loftier goals than its dwelling might suggest: Organizers hope to cultivate an idea incubator that could lead to the creation of game-changing startups and nonprofits.
The idea for co.space was developed by nonprofit "social innovation incubator" New Leaf Initiative. It grew out of an Ashoka U Exchange conference two years ago, and recently won Ashoka U and GOOD Maker's Exchange 60 Day Challenge. It was inspired by similar incubator models like The Embassy Network and the Unreasonable Institute.
Twenty years from now, co.space organizers, hope, there will be one incubator in every country in the world. The team is in talks with leaders from 30 different cities—from Tel Aviv, Israel to Kingston, Jamaica—to launch similar spaces there. Eventually, cutting-edge video technology will allow innovators, entrepreneurs, and consultants to stay in constant communication and collaborate on projects across the globe.