President Hanlon Announces Founding of Student Innovation Center

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In his inaugural address on September 20, President Phil Hanlon ’77 announced the founding of the Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator for Dartmouth students. The new center will provide flexible work space and an environment where students have access to the resources, connections, experiences, and capital to put ideas into action and start business ventures and social entrepreneurial initiatives. It is expected to open in early 2014.

Phil Hanlon

During his September 20 inaugural address, President Phil Hanlon ’77 announced the founding of the Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

“Student innovation is a well of unlimited creativity and potential on this campus, and one we must nurture,” Hanlon said in announcing the new center. “Whether students are interested in social ventures or business, the goal is to provide experiential learning opportunities and give them a world-class entrepreneurial competency, delivered by faculty and staff from across the campus as well as Dartmouth alumni around the world.”

The new Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator will be student-designed and managed. Guidance and oversight will be provided by the recently established Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer (OETT), which is led by two experienced technology entrepreneurs: Tillman Gerngross, associate provost for entrepreneurship and technology transfer and professor of bioengineering; and Trip Davis ’90, executive director of OETT.

“Dartmouth students are amazingly talented and have the potential to make a real difference in the world. We want to attract and support students who have entrepreneurial aspirations in business and social ventures,” said Gerngross. “The new center is a great example of Dartmouth’s commitment to offering an innovative and world-class educational experience, including a place to work with others on new ideas.” Gerngross has founded several highly successful venture-backed biotechnology companies, including GlycoFi, Adimab, Arsanis, Avitide, and Alector.

“Our mission is to energize, organize, and expand an already thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem for all Dartmouth stakeholders,” says Davis, whose entrepreneurial experience includes founding San Francisco-based travel technology venture Green Room Productions with Dartmouth classmates Eric Butz ’90 and Greg Waldbaum ’90. “With the new innovation center and incubator, we are excited to offer students a place for collaboration and access to a network of resources.”

The center adds to a portfolio of existing entrepreneurial resources at Dartmouth, including the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, the Barris Incubator at the Tuck School of Business, and the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center, one of the largest incubators in the Northeast, with more than 60,000 square feet of advanced laboratory and office space for technology ventures.

A group of founding donors—Trustee Bill Burgess ’81 and his wife Barbara; Trustee Bill Helman ’80; Trustee Richard Kimball ’78 and his wife Kathryn; Trustee Emeritus T.J. Rodgers ’70; Richard Magnuson ’79 and his wife Allison; and Jennifer Paul ’86 and Jonathan Paul ’86, Tuck ’90—provided $2.6 million in initial seed funding to open and run the center. The donors hail from Boston and Silicon Valley, representing firms in information technology, private equity, and venture capital.

President Hanlon said, “We are deeply grateful to this generous group for their continued support and leadership. They are a formidable syndicate of investors in the Dartmouth experience. Their support is exemplary of the entrepreneurial spirit of Dartmouth and of our worldwide network of accomplished and engaged alumni.”

In addition to physical space, the Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator will offer programming and support services for student entrepreneurs. These will include competitions, lecture series, workshops, networking events, mentorship programs and career services events, as well as visiting residencies for entrepreneurs, executives, faculty, and investors.

Support services will also include access and referrals to resources critical to early-stage venture development—financial, legal, marketing, and technical services, along with 24-hour student access to the student-designed and managed center.

The center will be located on the first floor of Dartmouth’s 4 Currier Place building, adjacent to campus and just south of the Arts District on Lebanon Street. Renovations are slated to begin next month and continue through 2013 toward an expected opening in early 2014.