Late in 2011, Harvard embarked upon a new experiment: build a laboratory to foster multidisciplinary innovation across the university. The result? The Harvard iLab. The iLab is part incubator, part accelerator and part flex office space, but all of none of these. Like a flex office space, there is work space, a kitchen and conference rooms galore for the use of residents, but there isn't the commercial infrastructure you see at places like the Cambridge Innovation Center or Regus. And the space is much more flexible than typical with almost everything literally on wheels to better support instant reconfiguration. The iLab is also similar to incubators like Ycombinator in that the staff goes to great efforts to provide an abundance of resources for the residents ranging from legal advisors, technical advisors, business consultants and more. And finally, like an accelerator such as the Microsoft Accelerator, the iLab provides access to capital but not directly through a captive fund but instead through tireless matchmaking and coaching.
The end result is an experiment that 1-year in seems to be working well. Hundreds of student teams, speakers, alumni, business leaders and businesses have come together, made connections, created new companies and trained current and future leaders.
ExtensionEngine is proud to be a part of the iLab experiment. Not only is ExtensionEngine co-located at the iLab, we are also involved in mentoring and advising residents, building technology and infrastructure and providing experts for talks and workshops. By engaging in this Harvard experiment so deeply, we are able to provide a meaningful benefit to our employees, but also to our clients. As our clients look to spur and accelerate innovation within their organizations, we are able to connect them with the broader Harvard community.