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About Us

About Us

Our Mission

Our Mission

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is bridging the gap between knowledge and practice, idea and action, and research and impact through education, partnerships, and new venture creation.


The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation drives venture creation and technology commercialization within the University of Chicago and the surrounding community. Through education, partnerships, and new venture support, the Polsky Center advances the knowledge and practice of entrepreneurship and accelerates the commercialization of research. The Polsky Center helps students, faculty, staff, alumni, researchers and local entrepreneurs navigate the complex process of creating and growing a startup.

Its resources include a 34,000 square-foot, multi-disciplinary co-working space called the Polsky Exchange; a $20 million Innovation Fund that invests in early-stage ventures; and a state-of-the-art Fabrication Lab for prototyping new products.

The Polsky Center is part of the Office of Research, Innovation and National Laboratories, working together with organizations across campus to provide faculty and other scholars with the resources and support they need to pursue new knowledge and novel solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Polsky's Evolution

Our Timeline


  • The second oldest business school in the United States is founded at the University of Chicago.


  • UChicago physicist Albert A. Michelson measures the speed of light, winning the first Nobel Prize for a US scientist.


  • Cancer researcher Charles B. Huggins introduces the hormonal treatment of cancer.


  • Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi and colleagues conduct the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.


  • The Compass Players, a student-run theater at UChicago widely credited with inventing modern improvisational comedy, is founded by Bernie Sahlins, AB’46, Howard Alk, and Paul Sills. They brought the techniques they pioneered to The Second City, which they founded in 1959.


  • Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and geneticist Janet Davison Rowley, LAB’42, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, demonstrates a link between cancer and genetics.


  • UChicago establishes a technology transfer office, later to become Polsky 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 UChicago Innovation Fund, which invests in early-stage ventures, is introduced.


  • 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.
  • 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.


  • Michael Polsky, MBA ’87, doubles his endowment.
  • Polsky Center expands its mission to become the venture creation engine for the entire university.


  • Data scientist Robert Grossman develops the first NIH-approved cloud-based computing system to process cancer data. As director of the NIH-funded Genomic Data Commons, Grossman runs the nation’s most comprehensive data facility.


  • 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.
Michael Polsky
Our Benefactor

Michael Polsky

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 cogeneration and independent power industry in North America.

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 $50M gift in 2016, Michael Polsky expanded the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, unifying and enhancing UChicago’s leading venture creation initiatives.

#PolskyProud to have supported

Bringing Ideas to Market

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation was initially launched in 1998 at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is now a campus-wide and community-facing resource working in close partnership with Chicago Booth, the Office of Research, Innovation and National Laboratories and the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago.

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