BOSTON—Harvard University officially launches the Harvard Innovation Lab today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and remarks by President Drew Faust, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and Business School Dean Nitin Nohria. The ceremony will be followed by an open house and self-guided tours of the Allston facility.
The Innovation Lab, or i-lab, is designed to foster team-based and entrepreneurial activities and to deepen interactions among students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and the Boston community. It supports Menino's innovation agenda by encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship and creativity.
"The Harvard Innovation Lab is a bridge between imagination and implementation. What we have done on Western Avenue is create a space that increases the likelihood of planned and unplanned encounters among our students, faculty, staff, and members of Boston's innovation community, a space where one ought to expect the unexpected," said Faust.
"Harvard's i-lab is embracing the idea of shared innovation that's at the core of my administration's agenda," said Menino. "We've seen Boston's entrepreneurial spirit take on new life with the growth of the Innovation District on the waterfront. In Allston, the i-lab will build community between neighborhood entrepreneurs, students, and faculty. Just as important, it reenergizes a building by giving neighbors a new place to collaborate."
Located on the first floor of Batten Hall at 125 Western Ave. on Harvard's Allston campus, the i-lab reactivates the building that once housed WGBH-TV's studios. The lab includes academic space such as classrooms and meeting areas designed to serve both undergraduate and graduate students. It also provides public areas and meeting rooms designed to foster project work, as well as business development resources for companies, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and other individuals in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood and Boston area. This will be a central place where students, practitioners, and local businesses can work together, share knowledge, and collaborate on ideas.
Organizations including SCORE, the Small Business Administration, the Center for Women & Enterprise, and the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network have committed to one-on-one coaching and business advising, workshops, and training sessions in the lab. The i-lab will also host lectures, panel discussions, and presentations that will be open to the public, as well as networking events for student teams, local businesses, and nonprofits.
"The i-lab is an exciting new platform that visibly demonstrates a University-wide commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation," said Nohria. "Its very existence encourages members of the community to think differently about what is possible. I believe the University and the community will be enhanced by the ideas that are developed inside."
"Creating a better-connected and more collaborative Harvard is one of my highest goals for the University," said Faust. "The i-lab is a place where we can begin to realize that goal. Here, aspiring and established innovators, mentors, and networkers from across our campus will gather under a single roof and use knowledge to create a future that none of us can imagine."
The i-lab has already hosted several activities this fall, including last week's Startup Weekend Scramble, an intense, 54-hour event for more than 100 student innovators and entrepreneurs from across Harvard. The event paired diverse teams of undergraduate and graduate students with mentors from Boston's startup community to work on new ventures over a weekend.