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Centers & Initiatives

Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology

The future belongs to innovators—and to leaders who bring an entrepreneurial mindset to firms both large and small.

The Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology seeks to challenge every Darden student to fulfill their entrepreneurial potential through transformational learning experiences and groundbreaking research.  

The Institute, founded in 1999 by a one-of-its-kind $60 million gift from Frank Batten Sr., is Darden’s innovation engine. It runs flagship venture programs for Darden and UVA including the i.Lab Incubator and UVA Entrepreneurship Cup, and supports professional pathways and networks in startups, VC, Entrepreneurship through Acquisition, social enterprise and technology.  

It also drives new ideas and initiatives around Effectual Thinking & Action, Sustainability, Design Thinking and AI.

About the Batten Institute

  • Mission and Strategic Priorities

    To challenge every Darden student to fulfill their entrepreneurial potential through transformative learning experiences and groundbreaking research in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.

    Support World-Class Education & Experiential Learning

    We support education and experiential learning for current Darden students and others in our community who aspire to grow as entrepreneurial leaders. We offer scholarships, classes, workshops, competitions, internships, fellowships and a variety of hands-on learning opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation.

    Advance Breakthrough Research & Ideas

    We advance entrepreneurial leadership at Darden through rigorous and relevant research in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology that aims to have impact for business practice and policy. We support programs and initiatives that further academic scholarship, including faculty fellowships, summer support, research grants, conferences, publications and events.

    Transform Ideas into Value-Creating Ventures

    We enable entrepreneurial leaders at Darden, the University of Virginia and beyond to transform promising new ideas into value-creating new ventures. To do this, we provide venture development opportunities, mentoring, workshops, fellowships, internships, externships, and connections with venture professionals in leading entrepreneurial ecosystems.

    Uphold Mission Integrity, Operational Excellence & Exceptional Talent

    As stewards of the endowed resources that support the mission of the Batten Institute, we hold ourselves to the highest standard of integrity (i.e., adherence to donor intent), operational excellence, and professionalism. We foster an inclusive and collaborative community through professional initiatives that allow us to attract, retain, and develop outstanding talent.

  • History of the Batten Institute

    In 1996, the Batten family of Norfolk, Virginia, and its Landmark Foundation, presented a generous gift to the Darden School, to be used for the establishment of a community of scholars and practitioners who would pursue leading-edge research and develop educational programs in entrepreneurship and innovation. This initial gift, provided by University of Virginia alumnus Frank Batten Sr., and his children Frank Batten Jr., (MBA ’84), and Dorothy Batten, (MBA ’96), led to the formation of the Batten Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

    In 2000, after a subsequent gift from Frank Batten, Sr., the former CEO and chairman of Landmark Communications and founder of the Weather Channel, the Batten Center became the Batten Institute. Charged with a mission to become a preeminent institution for thought leadership and educational preeminence, and to help create and disseminate knowledge in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation, the institute set about forging ties with a wide range of organizations and individuals in the national and international business community.

    The early years of the Batten Institute were devoted to laying a foundation for the long term and to building momentum through a robust portfolio of programs, research projects and other knowledge-building activities. During these early years, the institute launched the Batten Fellows program, expanded its portfolio of research projects, launched the Darden Business Incubator, supported the development of numerous case studies and educational materials, hosted several conferences and many guest speakers, published books and a research-based newsletter (the Batten Briefings) and sponsored business plan competitions and other educational offerings for Darden students.

    The defining of terms was an essential task early on. "Entrepreneurship," the Institute's major stakeholders decided, would mean not just the act of starting a new business venture, but would be expanded to include the sort of opportunity-seizing and action-oriented behavior that is essential for sustained growth in companies both large and small. "Innovation" would not be just of the sort reflected in new products and services, but would also include new business models and processes, and new ways of thinking about value creation.

    As it moves past its startup days, the Batten Institute continues to find new ways to engage as an intellectual venture capitalist with an ever-expanding community of scholars and business practitioners. The institute is also focusing on how the principles of entrepreneurship and innovation can be applied to some of society's most pressing problems. To that end, the institute has distilled its broader focus on entrepreneurship and innovation into four fields of inquiry: organic growth, emerging markets, sustainability and health care. True to the concepts at the core of its mission, the institute will in the coming years look for new ways to engage the best thinkers, foster the generation of new knowledge and contribute to the creation of business and social value.

    View the Batten Institute's Digital Five-Year Summary (2017-2021)

  • Contact Us

    Email: [email protected]

    Mailing Address:
    Batten Institute
    University of Virginia Darden School of Business
    P.O. Box 6550
    Charlottesville, Virginia 22906-6550 USA

    Shipping Address:
    Batten Institute
    University of Virginia Darden School of Business
    100 Darden Boulevard
    Charlottesville, Virginia 22903 USA

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