Innovation Lab

Mary Meder Innovation Lab Fund

Situated on the ground floor of the Bellisario Media Center, the Innovation Lab represents a central point of emphasis for open, collaborative and entreprenerual efforts designed to provide opportunities for students across all of our communications majors.

A gift from alumnus Mary Meder ('84) created the Mary Meder Innovation Lab Fund to support endeavors in the lab and student success. Meder is the longtime president of Harmelin Media, a Philadelphia-based agency that ranks one of the largest independent media services firms in the United States and was named one of the Best Places to Work in 2021 by AdAge.

While vision for the Innovation Lab is robust, we must ensure that the space is matched by the technological and financial resources that will put our innovations on the map. Private support makes a major difference in our ability to transform the lab into a hub for creativity and build an environment that prepares students to make an immediate impact in a fast-paced, constantly evolving industry. Thanks to the Meder Lab Fund we will be able host events such as interdisciplinary hackathons focused on quick, focused brainstorming that tackles challenges related to issues such as student wellness, mental health, and access to local services and news.

“This gift provides support that will enable the kind of creativity and innovation that will set our students apart with tangible experiences — and allow us to inform and serve people across Pennsylvania. It’s a forward-thinking approach that will help us better prepare the next generation of media entrepreneurs and digital storytellers.”

— Dean Marie Hardin

About the Innovation Lab

Rendering of atrium/Innovation LabThe Innovation Lab will be a nexus between new ideas and existing expertise in the Bellisario College as well as a catalyst for enterprises born from our faculty and students ranks. The potential for broad impact already exists in spaces like the Media Effects Research Lab, which develops cutting-edge research on the effects of communication technologies and media psychology; within programs like CommVentures, which generates grants to support faculty products and ventures; and at CommAgency, our student-run media production agency.

Through CommVentures, CommAgency and other signature college initiatives, faculty and students are mastering new technologies and fostering creative storytelling skills — and they are answering important societal questions while generating viable business models with the potential to revolutionize modes, methods, and impacts of communication.

The Bellisario Media Center provides an open, collaborative and entrepreneurial space close to the heart of downtown State College. The media center will bring together the creative minds behind the Bellisario College and equip these thinkers with the technological know-how and resources to develop new forms of storytelling and new ways of conceptualizing teaching and career readiness.

The Innovation Lab will be a central feature of this space, acting as an incubator for the creativity that will take shape in the Bellisario Media Center and, by extension, throughout the Bellisario College. The lab will be a “test kitchen” for faculty and students to experiment with emerging tools, techniques, and technologies for strategic communication and storytelling. The Innovation Lab will draw together interdisciplinary collaborations from units across the University and allow the Bellisario College to take charge of projects that will solve problems, improve communities and enhance lives.