Nurturing innovation

22 November 2011

Harvard has just opened an innovation lab to foster entrepreneurship within the student body. The idea is that some of its most famous entrepreneur-students, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, left the region once they had their Harvard fill.

More design resources

But there's really more to it than keeping innovation in the area, through the Harvard innovation lab, once the college experience is over. Wrote Gregory Huang, in Xconomy Boston:

"Now the cold, dark days are upon us, and we need a place to rejuvenate our spirits as we gear up for the holiday season."

The wording is important because it conjures up nurturing, which is a singularly important word when it comes to innovation. (The word winds its way back to the latin word for nourish).

You remember the 1980s and 1990s when technology "incubators" were the rage? These were buildings or sections within cities that generally got tax breaks. Rents were lower, tax holidays were sometimes offered, and these factors helped lure in those entrepreneurs usually nurturing their ideas on a shoestring budget.

Our cultural handling of innovation has clearly evolved since then. Then, the baby was in the incubator; now it's home, and we're nurturing it.

Today's action also seems to be bubbling up in colleges and universities. We spent a day at UMass Amherst with Professor Baird Soules at their fantastic M5 maker center, built just for students to make things.

These could be two completely isolated instances, but they're a fantastic start in any case.



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