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Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center founded at IBS

Published: November 21, 2014
Section: News

The Hassenfeld family donated $2.5 million to the Brandeis International Business School (IBS) to establish the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center. The center will work to foster connections between outside corporations and the innovators on the Brandeis campus, as well as help to promote the research and technological advances that occur on campus by helping researchers to launch their work onto the world scene though these new partnerships.

The Hassenfeld family has a long history with Brandeis. Alan Hassenfeld, the now retired CEO of Hasbro Toys is the chair of the Hassenfeld Family Initiatives. He co-chairs the IBS Board of Overseers and established the Hassenfeld Emerging Markets Business Immersion Program at the business school.

The Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center will seek commercial partnerships with businesses in a variety of fields including life sciences, energy and information technology. It will take advantage of the university’s prime location in the Boston area by investing in partnerships with local biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies and venture capital firms. The center will fuel research on campus as it enhances the university’s reputation as a top research university. The chief goal of the new center is to endow students and faculty with exciting new opportunities to propel their work forward and develop the capability of university research to leave a mark upon society

In a statement to The Brandeis Hoot, IBS Dean Bruce Magid said that he believes the center will “help advance a core value of the Brandeis mission—to enable our research and discoveries to serve a broader social good. It will enhance growth of our university’s existing collaborations as well as help us develop new partnerships with companies, public agencies, nonprofits and universities across the globe.”

Provost and Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy Lisa Lynch will oversee the center. Lynch is excited by the center’s outlook.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for Brandeis to advance more collaboration between innovative firms and our faculty and students with the goal of extending the social and economic impact of the research work that is done at Brandeis,” said Lynch.

In conjunction with the center, Lynch will collaborate with the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) and work with Executive Director of the OTL and Associate Provost for Innovation Rebecca Menapace. She will strive to provide support and infrastructure for Brandeis researchers to allow for commercialization and development of products. Menapace and the entire OTL team have backgrounds in business, technology, licensing and patenting.

Menapace agrees the center will further promote the university’s high standings in the world of innovation, stating it will aid researchers in their ability to “change the world through the groundbreaking work happening every day at Brandeis. It will provide a platform and the necessary support to bring that research to corporate, non-profit and even government partners—and help us fulfill the university’s mission of changing the world through knowledge and action that serves the greater good,” said Menapace.

The Hassenfeld Center serves to benefit the entire Brandeis community, Menapace explained, stating that “the Center will serve as a hub for interaction between Brandeis faculty and staff across campus and within the community.”

Specifically in terms of student benefit, Menapace said, “I envision many opportunities for students from learning how to assess commercial viability of research discoveries to helping develop business and marketing plans for potential new discoveries.”

According to Menapace, there are also plans currently in the works to introduce internships, fellowship and mentorship programs for students and faculty, though these programs are in the early stages of planning.

Furthermore, Magid noted that the Hassenfeld Center “will provide our students with the valuable opportunities to interact with innovative companies.” All those involved believe the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center is an excellent addition to IBS.