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i-lab To Open Space for Alumni This Summer

The Harvard Innovation Lab in the summer, at the edge of Harvard Business School and flanked by trees. In 2013 funds from Harvard Business School donors were allocated to the iLab.
The Harvard Innovation Lab in the summer, at the edge of Harvard Business School and flanked by trees. In 2013 funds from Harvard Business School donors were allocated to the iLab.
By Karl M. Aspelund, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: May 1, 2014, at 12:14 p.m.

The Harvard Innovation Lab will open a space for start-up ventures of Harvard alumni at 114 Western Ave. in Allston, extending its scope beyond current Harvard affiliates.

The new space, named the Launch Lab, will hold ten to 12 alumni ventures, which must include at least one alumnus of a Harvard school.

Though, at 3,000 square feet, the the new space will be smaller than the i-lab, members of participating projects will have full access to resources and programming across the street at the i-lab itself, according to i-lab Director Jodi Goldstein.

“Since its launch, the i-lab has been a breathtaking success, and this is the perfect next step,” said Angela Q. Crispi , associate dean for administration at the Business School.

The i-lab opened in Nov. 2011 as a cross-disciplinary center of entrepreneurship for the University. Goldstein said the concept for an i-lab for alumni emerged as students on the first venture teams began to graduate from their respective Harvard schools. Many began to work on their start-ups full time, but without access to the conference spaces, mentor programs, and events that the i-lab provided while they were students.

“Once they graduate, they need our support even more so than when they are students,” Goldstein said, adding that alumni working on projects should be able to stay and develop their entrepreneurial endeavors further.

I-lab administrators first brought the idea to its advisory board a year ago. The board, composed of Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, Executive Vice President Katherine N. Lapp, and 11 deans from Harvard's various schools, approved an initial prototype that has been in development this year.

Crispi predicted that the space will house both teams with members who worked in the i-lab as Harvard students and alumni who are new to the i-lab, but are interested in taking advantage of the University’s resources to develop ideas.

The Launch Lab will differ from the i-lab in its focus on ventures that are further developed. Teams must have their own sources of funding to be accepted into the space and will pay rent, which the i-lab does not require of student ventures. The space’s online application opened this week.

“In accepting teams, we are less focused on teaching and promoting early ventures and more about the potential of the idea,” Goldstein said.

At least one team leader is required to physically work in the space—an attempt  to enhance connections between alumni and current students working at the i-lab and promote Allston as a center for entrepreneurship.

“We hope that this is a step toward developing Allston as a hub of entrepreneurial activity in the Boston area,” Goldstein said, citing Kendall Square in Cambridge as a model.

—Staff writer Karl M. Aspelund can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kma_crimson.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: May 1, 2014

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the number of deans who serve on the i-lab's advisory board. In fact, 11 deans from across the University's various school serve on the board.

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