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Can Harvard's New Innovation Lab Crank Out Entrepreneurs?

The lab of fresh ideas and collaboration is set to open this fall.

It looks like Harvard is taking its goal of producing the next Mark Zuckerberg pretty seriously. The university is moving full-steam ahead with plans for the Harvard Innovation Lab, a school-wide incubator of fresh thinking and entrepreneurship that's set to launch later this year. The goal is to "foster team-based and entrepreneurial activities and deepen interactions among students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and members" of the greater Boston community.

While one of the keys to the i-lab is collaboration across disciplines, it's equally critical to get students involved with the real world. To that end, the i-lab "will also support the local business community by providing public areas, meeting rooms, and business development resources for businesses, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and others" in and around Boston.

Since the i-lab is still in the development stage, Director Gordon S. Jones has been busy figuring out how to structure programming so that it becomes a genuine hub of activity. He recently wrote on the lab's blog that he's in a listening phase so that he can determine what local businesses, faculty, and students all want to get out of the lab.

While the impact won't be evident until it opens this fall, it certainly seems like the idea of creating a regional innovation hub—one that can drive new ideas, connect students to businesses, and potentially spur job creation—is one that other universities would be smart to emulate.

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