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Darden Expands Its Business Incubator to Launch More Entrepreneurs' Bright Ideas
Renovated i.Lab to Be Named W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory
by Julie Daum
The Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business announced a major milestone in building a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem at Darden, at the University, in the commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.
Alumnus W.L. Lyons Brown III (MBA '87) championed the School's quest to create innovative new businesses, and issued a challenge in fall 2011. Brown offered a 90-day matching challenge to meet the $1 million goal to build a state-of-the-art incubator. Funds raised substantially exceeded the target within the desired timeline.
"I wanted to collaborate with the leaders of the Darden community and our alumni base in a manner that delivered our vision quickly and which put us in a position to deliver an incubator against which our strongest competitors will benchmark themselves," said Brown.
Darden's Dean Bob Bruner thanked the more than 50 alumni and friends who met the challenge, including Darden graduates who have launched a business in the Incubator. "We are incredibly grateful to the donors who have lent their support to launch the next generation of entrepreneurs," said Bruner.
This summer, Darden began expansion of its existing innovation laboratory, called the i.Lab, to include a new cutting-edge Darden Business Incubator facility. The i.Lab will be named the W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory. When the facility is complete and operational in the summer of 2013, the incubator will admit an expanded group of entrepreneurs. Admitted Darden students will be joined by qualified, high-potential entrepreneurs from the larger U.Va. and Charlottesville, Virginia, communities.
"Entrepreneurship and innovation are core to Darden’s No. 1-rated educational experience," said Mike Lenox, executive director of the Batten Institute. "Our students will benefit from working alongside game-changing entrepreneurs from across U.Va. and Charlottesville, who also wish to introduce innovative, disruptive new technologies and businesses."
The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), which is part of Darden’s Batten Institute, will continue to manage the incubator. Said CEL Director Philippe Sommer, "Darden and U.Va. continue to introduce major initiatives that advance entrepreneurship and innovation University-wide. Thanks to the support of Darden alumni, we will create a new set of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs that would not be possible otherwise."
The W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory will be much more than just a physical space. The i.Lab will be the place where innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship meet, where people learn and ideas are conceived, and where the best ideas thrive and receive the support they need to get to the next level. Darden’s objective is to foster a new set of opportunities for students, faculty, alumni and members of the community to originate, launch and nurture entrepreneurial ventures.
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