Established at Chicago Booth
Originally established at Chicago Booth in 1998, the Polsky Center has provided over two decades of venture support for students interested in entrepreneurship and robust training for students interested in pursuing a career in venture capital and private equity.
In 2016, with a generous gift from University trustee and Chicago Booth alum Michael Polsky, MBA ’87, the Polsky Center’s mission expanded to include an additional focus on supporting all University of Chicago faculty inventors in commercializing their discoveries. This effort was further accelerated in 2022 with the launch of Deep Tech Ventures, a new initiative offering a suite of sector-specific accelerators and investment opportunities dedicated to translating deep tech innovations into startups that bring lifesaving, world-changing science and technology to market. The Polsky Center also supports local South and West Side community entrepreneurs and small business owners as well as University of Chicago alumni around the globe.
Today, the Polsky Center is a 60-person professional staff responsible for advancing all University of Chicago entrepreneurship and research commercialization innovation activities through the creation of new ventures and partnerships. By igniting a spirit of innovation and fostering connections that extend across the University, city, region and world, the Polsky Center enables more ideas to have a meaningful impact on society.
Expansion Over the Years
- The University of Chicago establishes a technology transfer office, later to become Polsky Center’s technology commercialization, to help faculty and researchers transform their groundbreaking ideas and discoveries into products, services, and new ventures.
- Top-ranked university accelerator, the Edward L. Kaplan, MBA’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) is launched with interest from students.
- 3 classes in Entrepreneurship offered and taught by practitioners.
- Dean Hamada decides the University of Chicago needs a strong entrepreneurship program and asks Professor Steve Kaplan to create it.
- Entrepreneurship concentration introduced at the business school under Professor Steve Kaplan’s leadership.
- Kauffman Foundation provides a $1M grant to start entrepreneurship center at the business school, later named the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
- Ellen Rudnick, MBA ’73, hired as first executive director.
- Michael Polsky, MBA ’87, leading energy entrepreneur, endows center.
- Staff, faculty, and programming increase dramatically.
- Global New Venture Challenge (GNVC) launches for executive MBA students in the US, Europe, and Asia.
- The George Shultz Innovation Fund, which invests in early-stage ventures, is introduced.
- The University of Chicago, in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, establishes the Institute for Molecular Engineering to explore innovative technologies that address fundamental societal problems.
- John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) launches driven by increased student interest in socially-conscious enterprises.
- College New Venture Challenge (CNVC) debuts for undergraduates.
- Michael Polsky, MBA ’87, doubles his endowment.
- Polsky Center expands its mission to become the venture creation engine for the entire university.
- The University’s 34,000 square foot co-working and incubation space, now called the Polsky Exchange, opens its doors to serve as an innovation hub on Chicago’s South Side.
- The Polsky Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program is launched with funding from the National Science Foundation, empowering UChicago scientists, researchers, and students working on projects related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to test the commercial potential of their research.
- Michael Polsky, MBA ’87, makes a third gift to expand the Polsky Center and unite the university’s resources in venture creation and research commercialization.
- University hires Jay Schrankler, tech commercialization veteran and business executive, as new associate vice president and head of the Polsky Center.
- Deep Tech Ventures was established to accelerate technology commercialization
Michael Polsky, MBA ’87
Michael Polsky, MBA ’87, is the founder, president, and CEO of Invenergy, which specializes in developing and owning various power generation reserves with an emphasis on renewable resources. With nearly 30 years of experience in the energy industry, he is widely recognized as a pioneer and an industry leader in the power industry.
In 2002, Polsky endowed the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which is named after him. After an additional $35M gift in 2016, Michael Polsky expanded the Polsky Center’s mission across campus and around the world.