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About Us

About Us

Our Mission

Our Mission

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


The Polsky Center brings the power of ideas in the laboratory, classroom and community to the world. Through education, resources, and programs, the Polsky Center commercializes discoveries, partners with companies, and attracts venture capital. The Polsky Center runs a top-ranked business accelerator, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge and operates a 34,000 square-foot, multi-disciplinary co-working space called the Polsky Exchange; an innovation fund, the George Shultz Innovation Fund, that invests in early-stage ventures; and a state-of-the-art Fabrication Lab for prototyping new products. Finally, the Polsky Center manages the University of Chicago’s technology transfer function that manages all University-based intellectual property originating from faculty research and discoveries, which can be licensed to industry partners and investors.


In addition to providing venture creation support for all members of the University of Chicago community, the Polsky Center also has a community-facing mission to supporting local South and West Side community entrepreneurs with no formal connection to the University. 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.



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 George Shultz Innovation Fund, which invests in early-stage ventures, was 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

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