Yale Unleashes Another Contender in the Innovation Space Race

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Yale University is again upping the ante on their promise to help their diverse enrollment explore opportunities in innovation.

Following a similar announcement from the University of New Haven, Yale recently announced it would build a 10,000 square-foot center in the new Becton Plaza building near the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID). With CEID’s maker space, the facility will further elevate Yale’s innovation programming to new heights.

Anonymous donors helped fund the center available to all Yale students. While the center won’t house classes for credit, a host of workshops and short skill-based classes will occupy the space.

The space will have both formal and informal programming including hackathons, alumni speeches and student meet-ups, along with existing programs of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute.

President Peter Salovey said the project will further his mission to help Yale’s campus cultivate the finest “innovators, leaders, pioneers, creators and entrepreneurs in all fields and for all sectors of society.”

“Innovative thinking is fundamental to a liberal arts education, whether you study engineering or art history,” Salovey said. “By fostering this important skill, the new center will be a vital contributor to Yale’s mission of educating leaders and improving the world.”

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This center will not divert the school’s existing mission to support innovation within the Yale School of Management (SOM), said provost Ben Polak. However, the space will build on the school’s successes through additional development.

“We don’t want the center to recreate the curriculum we already have in Yale College and the professional schools,” Polak said. “This center will provide another avenue for students to develop and practice what they are learning in their courses.”

Polak said school officials hope that setting the innovation center in Becton Plaza will “increase the buzz of innovative activity.” The center will be located near the Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges, Schwarzman Center, Yale SOM and Yale Law School.

New initiatives involving diversity will also be included on site to promote matters involving race, socioeconomic class, disability and gender, among others. A dedicated fund will be arranged to support participation among underrepresented groups.

The administration will appoint a Yale faculty member as a part-time faculty director. Meanwhile, the school will conduct a nationwide search for a new executive director to handle daily operations. The school says they are accepting candidates with “significant innovation experience” or a history of for-profit and nonprofit startup ventures.

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Image courtesy of Michael Marsland of Yale University.

This is hardly Yale’s first investment toward innovation on campus.

In September, the school unveiled the results of a $130 million project to renovate the 93 year-old Sterling Chemistry Lab on Prospect Street. The project called to renovate 159,000 square feet and build a 31,6000 square-foot addition. The space will provide new teaching labs and stronger electrical systems.

Innovation or bust!

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