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In 2011 Harvard University initiated a new social action aiming at the creation of innovations and new industries. This paper introduces the activities of the newly created Harvard Innovation Lab known as i-lab. This action-oriented lab provides training and support for entrepreneurs who are trying to strike a balance between the creation of new industries and markets and the resolution/mitigation of social issues, and for social entrepreneurs who are aiming for the resolution/mitigation of global-scale issues.
The i-lab’s challenge provides significant implications for Japan.
A main feature of i-lab is its effort to provide training and support for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs who are working to solve global-scale issues or make relevant improvements. In particular, it aims to provide creative solutions to urgent issues to the international community in five areas: (1) learning and education, (2) energy and the environment, (3) health and healthcare, (4)disaster prevention and disaster emergency assistance, and (5) culture and the arts. The way support is provided is unique; the support provided for business initiation by entrepreneurs in residence (external specialists) appointed by the university president, as well as the President’s Challenge, a business plan contest, are attracting special attention.
This paper touches on Vaxess Technologies, Inc. which was born out of the i-lab and summarizes five characteristics of the lab’s activities in this regard: (1) support for students’innovation efforts, (2) support for entrepreneur teams consisting of various experts,(3) effective use of the university’s social resources and top-down management, (4) drawing of ideas from the needs of people directly involved in international cooperation or development, and (5) support for cultural entrepreneurship.