I-Lab's First Year Hailed a Success

The Innovation’s Lab first academic year has been deemed a success by Harvard administrators and Allston residents alike.

The I-Lab—which is located next to the Business School in Allston—was created as a center for entrepreneurship, bringing together students from across the University.

Currently, the I-Lab is base camp for 55 teams-in-residence, who receive space and a host of resources, including access to “experts-in-residents” who are knowledgeable in their field of business.

University President Drew G. Faust praised the venture for encouraging the cross-pollination of ideas.

“Over the past year we have watched the I-Lab evolve from an idea into a successful innovative center that fosters collaborative creativity and entrepreneurship across the University’s Schools and throughout the Boston community,” Faust said in a statement.

Gordon S. Jones, the head of the I-Lab, said the University was surprised by the level of enthusiasm the I-Lab inspired among students.

“The biggest thing we didn’t see coming was the volume of student interest,” said Jones.

I-Lab administrators, Jones said, anticipated the Lab would receive applications from 15 teams. The Lab, instead, received proposals from 100 teams—a difference which compelled I-Lab officials to reconsider space distribution so that it could accommodate as many teams as possible.

Jones said that he considers the Lab, like the businesses it houses, to be a start-up, with all the usual highs and lows.

“It’s been a crazy but good year,” Jones said.

Allston residents were also pleased with the I-Lab’s progress in its first year.

“I think the I-Lab has been a great development for the community,” said resident and Harvard-Allston Task Force member John Cusack. “It’s a really nice spot in the neighborhood.”

Throughout the year, the I-Lab has made much of its programming available to community members, often reserving portions of workshops and lectures for local residents and small business owners.

Looking to the future, Jones said that the I-Lab will be “continuing to refine and develop.”

The I-Lab will also incorporate new features, such as a physical prototyping lab in which students can model their designs.

Faust said she is optimistic that the I-Lab will continue to grow and to serve both the Harvard and Allston community.

“In the year ahead, we expect even more engagement from aspiring and established innovators, mentors and networkers across campus and in the community who access growing I-Lab programming,” she said in a statement.

—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at mcook@college.harvard.edu.

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