U.Va. Innovation Lab Expanding Across Grounds and Beyond


By Joyce Smaragdis and H. Brevy Cannon

The University of Virginia's Innovation Lab is expanding both its physical space and its institutional reach to become a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation education serving all 11 U.Va. schools and the local community beyond Grounds.

To support its enlarged role, the i.Lab, located in Sponsors Hall at U.Va.'s Darden School of Business, is being renovated and expanded. The renewed facility will reopen and be formally renamed the "W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory" at a special April 11 event.

The new space will offer a design-inspired learning environment and experiential programs, a prototyping lab and an expanded state-of-the-art business incubator program that will bring together U.Va. students, faculty and local entrepreneurs.

The recently admitted 2013-14 incubator class consists of 24 companies, including seven community-based ventures. The other 17 companies represent a mix of students, faculty and staff from five U.Va. schools. Venture mentor Kathryne Carr will head the expanded business incubator.

A new faculty advisory council will oversee the i.Lab curriculum and programs. Chaired by professor Bernard Carlson of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, it will include representatives from all 11 U.Va. schools.

The offices of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Vice President for Research will also be involved in expanding the i.Lab's offerings.

"The pan-University i.Lab demonstrates a structural commitment to cross-school collaboration, one of my strategic priorities for the University," U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said. "The expanded i.Lab, U.Va. Innovation, OpenGrounds and related initiatives enable U.Va. to provide students, faculty and members of the local community with a compelling environment to advance knowledge and create new businesses."

"The faculty advisory council will play a critical role in helping the i.Lab realize its full potential," said Philippe Sommer, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Darden's Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will operate the i.Lab. Sommer will also serve as the new i.Lab's director. "The i.Lab will enable students across the University to learn about, conceive, launch, grow and engage with entrepreneurial ventures through a diverse array of educational and experiential programs."iLab at U.Va.

To advance U.Va. discoveries to the global community, the i.Lab will partner with U.Va. Innovation.

"U.Va. Innovation is a pan-University initiative designed to maximize the impact of U.Va. discoveries through entrepreneurship and strategic partnerships," said Mark Crowell, executive director of U.Va. Innovation and associate vice president for research at U.Va. "The i.Lab will be a key contributor to U.Va.'s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem."

The i.Lab is named after U.Va. alumnus W.L. Lyons Brown III, a 1982 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences and a 1987 graduate of the Darden School, who donated generously to the creation of the new state-of-the-art incubator, along with 50 other donors and friends.

The expanded i.Lab will formally open April 11 as part of the kick off of the Tom Tom Founders Festival, a four-day series of events catalyzing innovation in Charlottesville, presented in partnership with U.Va. Innovation.

Sullivan and Robert F. Bruner, dean of the Darden School, will preside over the April 11 i.Lab reopening activities, which will begin at 3 p.m. Activities will conclude with the "U.Pitch. C'ville Decides" community pitch competition, developed in partnership with the Tom Tom Founders Festival. The Batten Institute will award $10,000 in total to the competition's top three winners, who will be selected by event attendees.

The members of the i.Lab faculty advisory council are:

  • School of Architecture: Jeana Ripple
  • College of Arts & Sciences: TBD
  • Darden School of Business: Jeanne Liedtka
  • McIntire School of Commerce: Brendan Richardson
  • School of Continuing and Professional Studies: Donna Klepper
  • Curry School of Education: Justin Thompson
  • School of Engineering and Applied Science: Bernard Carlson
  • School of Law: George Geis
  • Frank Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy: Christine Mahoney
  • School of Medicine: John Lazo
  • School of Nursing: Karen Rose
  • U.Va. Innovation: Mark Crowell

For questions or information, contact communication@darden.virginia.edu or a member of the Communication team.

About the i.Lab at U.Va.

The i.Lab is a University-wide initiative that creates a nexus for entrepreneurship and innovation education. Its mission is to foster deep cross-collaboration with no boundaries, across disciplines, schools or ways of thinking. The i.Lab provides coaching, courses and incubation to students, faculty and community members innovating the future. Initiatives such as the i.Lab help create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem within U.Va. and its surrounding community. The i.Lab is a collaborative effort of 11 schools of the University, the Provost's Office, and UVA Innovation.

About the Batten Institute at the Darden School of Business

The Batten Institute at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business improves the world through entrepreneurship and innovation. Its academic research center advances knowledge that addresses real-world challenges and shapes Darden's curriculum, and its Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers one of the world's top entrepreneurship programs. The Batten Institute was established with gifts now totaling over $100 million from the late Frank Batten Sr., a U.Va. alumnus, media pioneer, visionary and founder of The Weather Channel.

About the Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. The unique Darden experience combines the case study method; the highest-ranked faculty, whose research advances global managerial practice and business education; and a tight-knit learning environment to develop responsible and complete leaders who are ready to make an impact.

About the University of Virginia

Founded in Charlottesville by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia is a leading public university that serves as a national model for excellence through innovation and collaboration in its missions of teaching, research, public service and health care.

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