05 Oct 2016
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Harvard to Open Life Sciences Lab

Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab will accelerate life sciences research

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The Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab is the newest addition to the growing portfolio of innovation facilities on Western Avenue in Allston, joining the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab), which opened in 2011, and the Harvard Launch Lab, a start-up incubator for alumni ventures, which opened in 2014.

Made possible by a gift from Judy (MBA 1983) and Steve Pagliuca (MBA 1982), the lab will offer shared space for high-potential life sciences and biotech startups that are founded by Harvard faculty, alumni, students, and postdoctoral scholars. It will provide learning and career development opportunities to Harvard students, equip scientific startups with the lab resources and programming needed to grow and scale life science ventures, and generate insights and expertise about what it will take for Harvard to continue to build a successful life science environment.

“The Life Lab is a vital building block in Harvard's efforts to create an innovation hub in Allston that encourages our students and faculty to explore and nurture ideas that lead to new knowledge, new products, new services and perhaps even new industries,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “We are extremely grateful to the Pagliuca family for their generosity and for recognizing the importance of innovation in the life sciences.”

Over the past five years the i-lab has attracted students and faculty from across the University, some of who want to pursue ideas in the life sciences that require wet lab facilities. Wet labs are laboratories that test chemicals, drugs, or other materials that require direct ventilation and specialized accommodations. The Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab gives Harvard students and other members of the University an opportunity to participate in biotech and other life-sciences ventures. It will provide an experiential, educational environment in which students and faculty can put classroom ideas directly into practice. The 15,000-square-foot facility will have fully equipped and permitted laboratory and office space for early-stage companies. It will be operated by Lab Central, a leader in life sciences co-working communities. The proximity of the three innovation labs together provides access to the resources, programming and community necessary to help startups succeed.

“We believe innovation in the life sciences is critically important to the future of our region from an economic standpoint and equally important to all of our futures in its potential solve complex health problems,” said Steve Pagliuca.

“We are thrilled to be able to contribute to the innovation movement at Harvard and we are excited at the potential of the ideas that will emerge from this new space,” added Judy Pagliuca.

The Life Lab will contribute to building a thriving start-up community in Allston by seeding the campus with early stage scientific ventures. Together with the i-lab and Launch Lab, the Life Lab will foster the cross-disciplinary approach to entrepreneurship that will enable deeper impact and outcomes, and will reinforce President Drew Faust’s vision of One Harvard. All three labs benefit from their close proximity to Harvard Business School and upcoming the Science and Engineering Complex – which will be the new home of the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The Life Lab will house approximately 20 ventures at a time with high-potential ventures founded and led by Harvard faculty, alumni, students and postdoctoral scholars. Ventures typically would comprise two to five individuals who demonstrate expertise in the technology/science, as well as an understanding of the commercial/market need, and a vision for how they will build a viable business. The ventures represent 8 different Harvard schools and nearly 50% have a female founder.

Harvard Innovation Lab Director Srikant Datar chairs the selection committee, a cross-disciplinary group made up of Harvard faculty and administrators, life science investors, and life science entrepreneurs. “These are people who truly understand the mission of the Life Lab from a pedagogical standpoint and also those who understand the complexities to bringing an innovation from the lab to the marketplace. We could not ask for a better group to review applications and interview candidates. I am grateful for the commitment and dedication they have brought to this task”, said Datar.

According to Jodi Goldstein (MBA 1996), managing director of the Harvard Innovation Labs, the inaugural teams reflect the breadth and diversity of Harvard representing the One Harvard, cross disciplinary approach to innovation that builds community and connection among the ventures. “We hope by building community we will accelerate their development and increase their likelihood of future success and ultimate impact on the world.” She added that the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab is a BSL-1 rated facility, which means that teams will work with materials that pose no danger to anyone outside the lab.

The Life Lab will also play an important role in Harvard’s ongoing efforts to bring its greatest strengths of teaching and research directly to the community. To that end, the Life Lab has pledged to provide a one-time grant totaling over $60,000 to fully fund the purchase of Chromebook laptops to provide every Allston-Brighton public school student access to new, modern laptops. It also plans on sponsoring various science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workshops for local residents, and participating in a speaker series at the i-lab on topics relevant to the intersection of entrepreneurship and life sciences. Together with the i-lab and Launch Lab, it will also host a free annual ice cream social event for the entire community beginning this fall.

Through these collective projects, Harvard is making critical investments and stewarding its Allston campus as part of a larger picture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

Read more: Pagliucas build a Harvard home to nurture life science startups (Boston Globe)

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Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1982, Section H
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Class of MBA 1983, Section H

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