UVA Innovation Lab Expanding Across Grounds and Beyond

20 March 2013

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 UVA schools and the local community beyond Grounds.

To support its enlarged role, the i.Lab, located in Sponsors Hall at UVA’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 UVA 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 UVA 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 UVA 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,” UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “The expanded i.Lab, UVA InnovationOpenGrounds and related initiatives enable UVA 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.”

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

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

The i.Lab is named after UVA 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 UVA 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
About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia