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UVa marks reopening of Innovation Lab

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Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013 9:26 pm | Updated: 9:29 pm, Thu Apr 11, 2013.

If Thomas Jefferson were to return to the University of Virginia, he’d likely be pleased with the latest academic addition, President Teresa A. Sullivan said Thursday.

About 200 people gathered to celebrate the reopening of the innovation laboratory, or iLab, at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.

The iLab, which first opened in 2010, is designed to facilitate entrepreneur-oriented education, teaching, coaching and collaboration across academic disciplines, throughout the community and beyond the university’s Grounds.

“What would Thomas Jefferson think of the iLab?,” Sullivan said. “He would certainly approve of the commitment to innovation. Jefferson was an innovator all his life, and perhaps his greatest innovation was the University of Virginia.”

Jefferson founded UVa. He was born in Albemarle County 270 years ago on April 13 and died in 1826.

The expanded and revamped facility is named in honor of Darden alumnus W.L. Lyons Brown, who made a substantial funding contribution to the project and led the charge to generate additional gifts to support the expansion.

“My passion is creativity,” Brown said at the event, which included a champagne toast and featured several startup business pitches from students. “It took me a long time to figure that out."

Instead of sitting in a boardroom, Brown said he would rather be in the hypothetical muck, alongside emerging entrepreneurial ideas.

“I like being in the green slime. I like being down in the bog, in the place from which ideas emanate and are nurtured and are ultimately launched for maximum impact,” said Brown. “This is a magnificent green bog that we have over here,” he said, gesturing to the building.

Located on North Grounds, the facilities include classroom and meeting spaces, conference and community gathering spaces, offices and work spaces for startup businesses, and a coffee shop.

“This is more than just an ingenious designed physical space — it is an embodiment of what we teach our students, how we teach them, and it reflects how we view our role as part of the University of Virginia and as part of the world beyond,” said Darden Dean Bob Bruner.

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