By Jessica Borders
FAIRMONT — Global Science & Technology’s new Innovation Lab is bringing creative minds together to achieve success. Brian Bell, vice president and founder of the GST Innovation Lab, or iLab, said his team follows the philosophy of Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, to “stay hungry, stay foolish.” The staff members embrace this concept in their work and jokingly call themselves “innovation fools.”
GST appropriately referred to the Innovation Lab’s grand opening on Thursday — April Fools’ Day — as “Innovation Fools’ Day.”
According to the company, “The Innovation Fool understands the importance of pursuing innovation despite the uncertainty of the outcome.”
The team moved into the facility, located in the Alan B. Mollohan Innovation Center in Fairmont’s I-79 Technology Park, in February. The lab offers an open, casual and comfortable environment with collaborative spaces, Bell said.
“We break down all the barriers that typical business organizations have,” he said.
Bell explained that the the lab promotes collaboration and sharing of information, and every project has one or more partners. GST currently has about a dozen innovation campaigns, all in various stages of maturity.
“All of our innovation campaigns have to do with information relevancy,” he said.
The lab’s four focus areas are social and new media networks; mobile observing platforms; personalized content production; and collaborative business structures. While the lab itself accommodates about 10 workers, around 60 individuals are actually working on these projects, Bell said.
“We do believe in a virtual environment,” he said.
GST has nearby partners like Pierpont Culinary Academy and West Virginia University, but also collaborates with entities across the country — such as in Boston, Mass., and Syracuse, N.Y. — and in Ottawa, Canada. Many of these partners provided demonstrations of the campaigns they are involved in during Thursday’s event. GST’s public partner, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, was also present. Bell said he hopes the iLab keeps growing, and his vision is to create innovation labs with different themes throughout the country. Chieh-San Cheng, president of GST, said the grand opening of the Innovation Lab was extremely important to the company, which was created 19 years ago with the purpose of providing high-tech services to government agencies. Over the last 12 years, GST has developed successful commercial products.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to do,” Cheng said.
He said GST likes to encourage other companies and organizations to innovate, and strives to help them achieve their goals. The company is now doing this innovative work in Fairmont and will use the iLab as an incubator to nurture and encourage product development.
GST wants to bring the smartest, brightest people together to create something beneficial to the economy, Cheng said.
“We have a passion for good services, good products,” he said. Congressman Alan Mollohan acknowledged the great accomplishments of Cheng and Bell and thanked them for their contributions to West Virginia and to national priorities.
“Global Science & Technology has made a wonderful contribution to our community,” Mollohan said. “GST is a company that gets a job done, gets it done right.” The different innovation campaigns include the following: Mobile Platform Environmental Data (MoPED) System; Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) as a Mission-specific Mobile Observation (M2O) Platform; Togo — Virtual Consumer Network (VCN); Med-Wall; Personalized Medical Exercise DVD System (PMEDS); Real-time Environmental Data for Decreasing Unfavorable Concentration of Emissions (REDDUCE); Multi-point Interactive Display using a Wiimote (WiiDisplay); and Open Source Predictive Tool Suite.