Harvard innovation lab

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Harvard innovation lab
Industry Education
Founded 2011
Headquarters Allston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Jodi Goldstein
(Managing Director)
Srikant Datar (Faculty Chair)
Chris Colbert (Director of Programming)
Website http://i-lab.harvard.edu/

The Harvard innovation lab (i-Lab) is a new initiative which aims to promote team-based and entrepreneurial activities among Harvard students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and members of the Allston and Greater Boston community.[1] The i-Lab's stated aim is to promote entrepreneurship and innovation across the University, bringing together many cross-curricular interests, including students from Harvard Business School, Harvard College, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Extension School, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Harvard School of Public Health.


Gordon Jones was named the first Managing Director of the Harvard Innovation Lab in 2011.[2] Jodi Goldstein is the Director of the i-Lab and Professor Srikant Datar is the Faculty Chairperson. Chris Colbert is the Director of Programming and Madeline Meehan is the Director of Operations. The i-Lab has approximately 14 administrative and support staff members.[3]


The i-Lab is headquartered at 125 Western Avenue, Allston, MA 02163 on the first floor of originally was the WGBH-TV public television station headquarters. The i-Lab occupies over 30,000 square feet of space that is divided into three areas: the lobby area which has a cafe and open seating and which is open to the public, a multi-media presentation and lecture hall used to host RSVP events and a flex-space open area for registered i-Lab residents.

The i-Lab facilities has lots of open spaces, 20+ reservable conference rooms, a stocked kitchen, and even a conference room with a treadmill to exercise on while on the computer or talking with peers.

In 2014 the facilities were extended to include the Harvard Launch Lab.[4] The Launch Lab is a space for Alumni of Harvard Affiliated schools to continue business incubation. The Launch Lab acts as an extension and complement to the facilities and is intended to allow for ongoing support of Harvard-affiliated startups. Unlike the i-Lab, which is free for matriculated Harvard students, the Launch Lab functions on a pay-for-table model. In 2015, the Launch lab added an addendum facility to foster 35 more teams.[5]

Resident Ventures[edit]

Notable long term residents of the i-Lab include:

Former long-term residents include:

  • Vaxess Technologies Developing thermo-stable vaccines to increase access around the world
  • RallyPoint - Professional networking for the military community
  • Philo - Live TV for college campuses

Current residents include:

  • eXlogue - Language teaching exchange platform[6]


The i-Lab hosts several competitions open to students across the university ("Challenges.") The Challenges are similar to traditional business plan competitions where teams submit proposals, give presentations and winners are selected by a panel of judges. There are cash and in-kind prizes awarded to Challenge winners. Past or current Challenges at the i-Lab include:

  • President's Challenge. The President’s Challenge is designed to help students develop and execute solutions to complex systemic problems by attacking and addressing truly important issues facing the world today. It demonstrates the University’s commitment to using the i-lab as a vehicle for bringing individuals together in cross-school initiatives and fostering a Harvard-wide entrepreneurial community. The 2012 President's Challenge semi-finalists[7] included teams such as Vaxess Technologies, which is working on vaccine transportation;
  • Deans' Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The Deans’ Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge calls upon visionary and entrepreneurial students to develop solutions for expanding the role of the arts in society and supporting arts and artists in a sustainable manner.
  • Deans' Health and Life Sciences Challenge. The Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge encourages students from across the University to find entrepreneurial solutions to the task of delivering affordable health.

Venture Incubation Program (VIP)[edit]

The Venture Incubation Program is open to students currently affiliated with any of the Harvard schools on their entrepreneurial ventures.[8] The 12-week program run has Fall, Spring, and Summer cohorts. As of December 2015, 575 VIP student teams had participated.[9] While the program does not provide funding to teams, it does provide them with:

  • Shared co-working space
  • Private workshops
  • Industry-specific roundtables
  • Mentor-matching program
  • Founder Dinners with visiting entrepreneurs
  • Exclusive Office Hours with guest experts
  • i-lab Staff Advisor
  • Technical resources including hosting credits
  • Access to a hardware prototyping lab

Fall 2016 VIP Cohort Statistics[10][edit]

Teams by Industry
Venture Industry Number of Teams
Consumer & Business 37
Health & Sciences 18
Social Impact & Cultural Innovation 26
Total 81
Teams by Harvard Affiliation
School Number of Teams
Business School 26
College 18
Kennedy School of Government 11
Medical School 4
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences 4
Law School 4
School of Public Health 2
Engineering & Applied Sciences 3
Graduate School of Education 3
Graduate School of Design 2
Extension 2
Divinity 1
School of Dental Medicine 1
Total 81

Each team has one self-designated team lead. Statistics are based on the school affiliation of the team lead only.

Application Process[edit]

Teams must include at least one member who is a current, full-time, degree-seeking student at any Harvard school across the University. The application requires teams to elaborate on their venture idea, progress to date, and goals for the term of the program. Applicants must produce a short video introducing their team and idea. The acceptance rate for new VIP applicants is less than 50%. Teams who have already participated in VIP for at least one term are eligible to reapply as Renewal VIP teams. The Renewal application is much shorter, focusing on the team's biggest achievements of the past term.


  • "Hi" to the Harvard Innovation Lab Harvard Magazine, November 18, 2011
  • A Tour Of Harvard's Innovation Lab WGBH
  • Vaccine Delivery System Wins President's Challenge Grand Prize, Harvard Magazine, June 6, 2012
  • Off to a torrid start, Harvard i-lab marks its first year, Boston Globe, November 12, 2012
  • Harvard's i-lab could buoy the entire region, Boston.com, November 24, 2012
  • Harvard’s Launch Lab turns one, adds space for 35 more alumni startups [1], August 25, 2015
  • Harvard Unveils $15M Life Lab to House Biotech and Medical Startups [2], June 8, 2016
  • Harvard Unveils $15M Life Lab to House Biotech and Medical Startups [3], June 8, 2016
  • First 11 Biotech Startups Admitted to Harvard’s Life Lab [4], September 9, 2016


External links[edit]