Harvard Innovation Lab Opens Today

Image by j.gresham*

Today marks the launch of Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, or i-lab, in Boston. In the press release, Harvard President Drew Faust describes it as “a bridge between imagination and implementation,” evoking Lincoln Center Institute (LCI’s) concept of the ICI Continuum (Imagination –> Creativity –> Innovation). So what does this new institution, another example of higher education’s recent efforts to promote these capacities, actually look like?

In addition to classrooms for undergraduate and graduate students, the i-lab offers open areas and meeting spaces that encourage collaborative work. Situated on the first floor of Harvard’s Batten Hall, it is arranged “to deepen interactions among students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and the Boston community”—a goal that aligns with the innovation agenda of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The lab will present public lectures, panel discussions, and networking events, and provide development resources, including personal coaching, to local businesses and nonprofits.

The festivities today include a ribbon-cutting ceremony; remarks by Faust, Menino, and Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria; an open house; and tours of the floor.

The i-lab, says Faust, is “a space that increases the likelihood of planned and unplanned encounters among our students, faculty, staff, and [community members], a space where one ought to expect the unexpected.” This statement recalls one of the imagination practices that Eric Liu and I recommend in our book, Imagination First; we call it “designing for the hallway.” (Read a post about that practice here.)

Congratulations to Harvard!

*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

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