01 Dec 2018
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Preparing Our Students for a Changing World

Preparing our students to face challenges and opportunities in a rapidly changing world means constantly innovating in our curriculum; today’s graduates must master the knowing, doing, and being of leadership.

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Harvard Innovation Labs

Students at the i-lab facilities in Batten Hall (photo by Rose Lincoln)

The Harvard Innovation Labs are an ecosystem that bring entrepreneurial ventures to life. Successful ventures like RapidSOS—a startup that has raised more than $30 million in funding for its innovative take on contacting emergency first responders—have been able to use the i-lab as a base to grow, taking advantage of its facilities, programs, and connections. “Again and again, we were blown away by the generosity of the HBS community, as people donated hours to advise and mentor us,” says RapidSOS CEO and cofounder Michael Martin (MBA 2015). Through the three labs—the i-lab, Launch Lab X, and the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab—students and alumni can access a network of peers at Harvard as well as faculty and practitioners across fields and industries. “Over the last seven years, more than 1,200 ventures have been incubated at the Harvard Innovation Labs,” says Executive Director Jodi Goldstein (MBA 1996). “Collectively, they have worked on an incredible breadth and diversity of ideas.”

83%

of Harvard University students engage with the i-lab

83%

of Harvard University students engage with the i-lab

“Over the last seven years, more than 1,200 ventures have been incubated at the Harvard Innovation Labs.”
—Jodi Goldstein, Executive Director, Harvard Innovation Labs

 

An Immersion into Israel’s Innovation Ecosystem

Participants in the Israel IFC visited the Israeli Air Force Base in Tel Aviv to understand the technology cycle, which is often influenced by ideas generated by former members of the military.

Only months before he would graduate and launch his own venture, Michael Orzetti (MBA 2018) was in Israel. He and 44 classmates were working with 10 early-stage companies on key go-to-market projects in sectors ranging from social impact venture capital to artificial intelligence.

“Having the chance to deepen my learning in such a hotbed of technological innovation, all while engaging with a dynamic country and culture, was incredible,” says Orzetti.

In January 2018, the second-year students traveled to Israel for a 10-day Immersive Field Course (IFC) that plunged them into the country’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem. Often referred to as the “Startup Nation,” Israel has more venture capital per capita than any other country in the world.

Orzetti, whose prior work experience included the US Marine Corps and Bridgewater Associates, had already immersed himself in the School’s vibrant entrepreneurial community, taking courses such as the HBS Startup Bootcamp and tapping into the Arthur Rock Center Accelerator and Harvard i-lab. The IFC, however, gave students participating in Israel: Startups and Venture Capital the experience of learning by doing in a country recognized globally as a tech hub.

“I was fortunate to work with great teammates and an exciting partner —an automotive cybersecurity company at the cutting edge of a problem with massive implications,” says Orzetti. “The issues we were addressing became so much more tangible when our client gave us a demo and hacked our car as we drove around an empty parking lot!” He adds that his summer internship at Tesla between years at HBS provided insights that were helpful in working with the client.

Orzetti says the immersion exceeded expectations and broadened his understanding about entrepreneurship and the nuances of global business. Paul Gompers, the Eugene Holman Professor of Business Administration, was the faculty lead for the course and was joined by Richard Ruback, the Willard Prescott Smith Professor of Corporate Finance.

“Cross-cultural communication is, at its core, about empathy. Each time you interact professionally in a different environment, you enhance your ability to stand in another person’s shoes and consider a situation from multiple perspectives,” says Orzetti. “This isn’t just critical to succeeding in one’s career—it’s also essential to being a strong leader and good teammate. That mindset helped us strengthen friendships with each other while also delivering value to our Israeli partners,” he adds. “Our professors did a tremendous job of shaping the immersion in a way that enabled us to pour a great deal of energy into the engagement while getting just as much—if not more—out of the experience.”

“Having the chance to deepen my learning in such a hotbed of technological innovation, all while engaging with a dynamic country and culture, was incredible.”
—Michael Orzetti

 
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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2015, Section F
Class of MBA 1996, Section A
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Class of MBA 2018, Section J

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