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Universities Commit to Initiatives that Foster Innovation and Entrepreneurship

November 30, 2011

With increasing pressures from state and local policymakers to show a return on investment, universities and colleges across the country are stepping up their efforts to transform innovative ideas into ready-for-market products and develop a new generation of entrepreneurs that will spur regional and state economic growth. Recently, several universities announced new initiatives to foster innovation and build entrepreneurial capacity including: Auburn breaking ground on a new $28.8 million science center; Harvard's Innovation Lab opening its doors; and, The LaunchPad Ohio announcement at four universities in Northeast Ohio.

Auburn Science Center

The University of Auburn broke ground on the $28.8 million Auburn University Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce (CASIC). Funded in part by a $14.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the 84,000-square-foot center will feature 20 laboratories, shared support spaces and specialized equipment areas for scientific research in bioenergy, water quality, food safety, genomics, information science and ecosystem health. The university hopes that CASIC will attract millions of dollars in grants and contracts annually and create employment opportunities to foster a science-based and technology-driven state economy. Read the press release...

Harvard's Innovation Lab

Harvard opened the doors to its new Innovation Lab (i-Lab), a new initiative to "foster team-based and entrepreneurial activities and deepen interactions among the students, faculty, entrepreneurs and members community." One-on-one consultations with "experts in residence" and "innovation partners" will be among the services provided to students. I-Lab also will host events throughout the year including guest speakers, workshops and Startup Scrambles, a 48-hour experience that challenges students to plan, build and launch real business and social ventures with the help of mentors and professionals. Open to all Harvard students, i-Lab takes no financial stake in any startups and will not charge rent. Visit i-Lab's website...

LaunchPad Ohio

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation announced a three-year $3.2 million commitment to expand Blackstone LaunchPad (LaunchPad) to four universities in northeast Ohio — Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and Lorain County Community College. Starting in early 2012, LaunchPad Ohio will work to provide the region's aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and supportive mentors needed to transform untested ideas into vital companies. The LaunchPad initiative is fully integrated into a participating college's career center and is open to all students, faculty and alumni. Participants are paired with venture "coaches" who help them develop their business plan. As the idea matures, participants are connected with entrepreneurs, lawyers, venture capitalists and other professionals to support them through the commercialization process. Read the press release...

Alabama, Massachusetts, Ohiohigher ed, commercialization, entrepreneurship