Two Nights in September: How the Harvard Innovation Lab Is Bringing…
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Two Nights in September: How the Harvard Innovation Lab Is Bringing Innovators Together

i-lab members gathered in the lobby of the Harvard Innovation Lab

Over the past few weeks, the Innovation Lab has welcomed hundreds of members of the Harvard community through its doors. Many were making their first foray to Batten Hall to discover just what exactly is going on at this place called the i-lab; others were returning to its whiteboard-covered walls for the first time in the new academic year.

Most, it seems, found something of real value in this gateway to Allston and centerpiece of Harvard's burgeoning innovation community.

On a Wednesday night two weeks, for instance, the i-lab hosted “Innovation Lab Opening Day,” which featured the annual introduction to the Boston startup community by Jeff Bussgang, general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners and HBS senior lecturer. While the slide deck for his chat, “What Makes Boston’s Start-Up Scene Special” is available online, it was a treat to catch Bussgang add his own insider spin on who to meet, where to connect, and what to read if you want to get more dialed into the Boston startup community.

While Bussgang kicked off the events, the real action was happening at the tables spread throughout the i-lab. Not only were many of Harvard’s schools and student programs represented, but so were some of the teams participating in the i-lab VIP program.

For the teams, the event was not just an opportunity to showcase their products, but to connect with like-minded Harvard community members who’ve caught the innovation bug. “A lot of students we met were interested in interning with us,” said Cullen Schwarz, one of the co-founders of DoneGood. “And there were other folks we met who we might be able to build full partnerships with in the future.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time going to events on campus, so it’s nice when get hundreds of students who want to come to our office,” said Schwarz. “The event was one more way that the i-lab really makes its presence felt in the community.”

Last week, the i-lab hosted its orientation for the teams that had been selected to partake in this fall’s Venture Incubation Program. After an epic, fast-paced round of rock-paper-scissors, one member from each team gave a quick pitch of their idea to the rest of their fellow VIP teams. While it seemed like everyone enjoyed finding out what each other was building, there was no doubt that the post-orientation networking event was the highlight of the night.

“It was a great crowd and one of the biggest we’ve seen, having been in the i-lab for a year,” said Kyle Kahveci, founder of healthcare education upstart ACEA.

“It’s really exciting to get to know the new teams,” he added. “There are so many different ideas being turned into companies, from physical devices to social apps.”

“That is the true value of being at the i-lab,” Kahveci said. “The great community that you become a part of.”