Harvard Innovation Labs
Srikant Datar (Faculty Chair)
Chris Colbert (Managing Director)
Harvard Innovation Labs (i-Lab) is an institution which aims to promote team-based and entrepreneurial activities among Harvard students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and members of the Allston and Greater Boston communities. The i-Lab's mission is to bring together students from Harvard's various schools to foster innovation across the University.
Gordon Jones was named the first Managing Director of the i-Lab in 2011. 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.
The i-Lab is headquartered at 125 Western Avenue, Allston, MA 02163. The i-Lab occupies over 30,000 square feet of space divided into three areas: the lobby area which is open to the public, a multi-media lecture hall used to host RSVP events, and a flex-space open area for registered i-Lab residents. The i-Lab also has more than 20 reservable conference rooms and a stocked kitchen.
In 2014, the facilities were extended to include the Harvard Launch Lab, a space for Harvard alumni to continue business incubation. Unlike the i-Lab, which is free for 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.
Notable long term residents of the i-Lab include:
- Bounce Imaging - One of Time Magazine's Best Inventions of 2012
- ExtensionEngine - Custom software solutions providers and alumni mentors. ExtensionEngine offers custom learning experiences for leading universities and corporations like Harvard, MIT, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson.
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
- Buoy Health - Health tech company using AI to provide guidance around symptoms
Current residents include:
The i-Lab hosts several competitions open to students across the university ("Challenges"). The Challenges are similar to traditional business plan competitions in which teams submit proposals, give presentations, and are judged by a panel of experts. There are cash and in-kind prizes awarded to Challenge winners. 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 facing the world. The 2012 President's Challenge finalists included teams such as Vaxess Technologies.
- 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
The Venture Incubation Program (VIP) is open to full-time degree-seeking students and select alumni of any of the Harvard schools that are working on an entrepreneurial or innovative ventures. The 12-week program has Fall, Spring, and Summer cohorts. As of November 2018, 1,146 VIP student teams have participated. 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 an Augmented Reality Studio
- Access to a hardware prototyping lab
|Venture Industry||Number of Teams|
|Consumer & Business||37|
|Health & Sciences||18|
|Social Impact & Cultural Innovation||26|
|School||Number of Teams|
|Harvard Business School||26|
|Harvard Kennedy School of Government||11|
|Harvard Medical School||4|
|Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences||4|
|Harvard Law School||4|
|Harvard School of Public Health||2|
|Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Sciences||3|
|Harvard Graduate School of Education||3|
|Harvard Graduate School of Design||2|
|Harvard Extension School||2|
|Harvard Divinity School||1|
|Harvard School of Dental Medicine||1|
Each team has one self-designated team lead. Statistics are based on the school affiliation of the team lead only.
Teams must include at least one member who is a 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 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 achievements of the past term.
- "Hi" to the Harvard Innovation Lab Harvard Magazine, November 18, 2011
- Vaccine Delivery System Wins President's Challenge Grand Prize, Harvard Magazine, June 6, 2012
- Harvard’s Launch Lab turns one, adds space for 35 more alumni startups Beta Boston, August 25, 2015
- Harvard Unveils $15M Life Lab to House Biotech and Medical Startups Xconomy, June 8, 2016
- First 11 Biotech Startups Admitted to Harvard’s Life Lab The Harvard Crimson, September 9, 2016
- "Take a tour of Harvard's i-Lab (Boston.com 02-19-2013)". The Boston Globe.
- "Harvard Innovation Lab Appoints Director (Xconomy 04-29-2011)".
- "Harvard Innovation Lab Website: Our Staff (i-lab.harvard.edu 06-16-2016)".
- "First look: Harvard's new Launch Lab, a home for alumni startups (betaboston.com 06-16-2016)".
- "First look: Harvard's Launch Lab turns one, adds space for 35 more alumni startups (betaboston.com 06-16-2016)".
- "eXlogue - The Harvard Innovation Lab". The Harvard Innovation Lab. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
- "Forgeant". Harvard innovation labs. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
- "10 finalists in President's Challenge".
- "Venture Incubation Program - The Harvard Innovation Lab". Retrieved 2016-09-29.
- "Apply for the i-Lab's Spring 2016 Venture Incubation Program". 2015-12-11. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
- Venture Team Profiles Booklet, Fall 2016