Harvard Opens New Innovation Lab

Harvard Business School’s entrepreneurial initiative got another boost today (Nov. 18) with the official opening of an Innovation Lab meant to be a central place where students, entrepreneurs, and local businesses can work together, share knowledge, and collaborate on ideas.

The so-called iLab opened today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and remarks by Harvard University President Drew Faust, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and Business School Dean Nitin Nohria.

The 30,000 square foot Innovation Lab is designed to foster team-based and entrepreneurial activities and to deepen interactions among students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and the Boston community. Joseph B. Lassiter, who graduated from HBS with his MBA in 1954 and is a professor of management practice, has been named faculty chair of the lab.

Located on the first floor of Batten Hall at 125 Western Ave. on Harvard’s Allston campus, adjacent to the business school 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.

“The i-lab is an exciting new platform that visibly demonstrates a University-wide commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Dean Nohria in a statement. “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.”

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.

“Creating a better-connected and more collaborative Harvard is one of my highest goals for the University,” said Faust in a statement. “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.