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UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business Opens New Innovation Lab

The Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley is home to a new 2,700-square-foot Innovation Lab where students can participate in more team-based and experiential learning, primarily as part of the school’s innovative leader curriculum. The new I-Lab, located inside Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, was made possible thanks to a gift from alumnus Michael Gallagher, BS ‘67, MBA ‘68, former Haas Board chairman and retired CEO of Playtex Products.

Haas Lecturer Clark Kellogg and Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman, who teach the school’s “Problem Finding Problem Solving” course, taught the first class in the new labratory space on August 19th. “This Innovation Lab is a dream that Sara and I have been nurturing since 2010,” Kellogg said in a story on the Haas website about the new facility. “It’s amazing to see students working together in this new, robust space.”

As part of one of the first sessions in the new space, MBA students worked as teams to build towers out of spaghetti, with 18 minutes to create a structure that would support a marshmallow. Called the “Spaghetti Challenge,” the exercise was designed to demonstrate the impact of group dynamics and iteration against a ticking clock. Only three of the six groups successfully built a tower, and after talking about the ways in which iteration can improve a business model canvas, the students headed toward smaller breakout areas within the I-Lab to explain their business model canvases to one another.

Adjunct Professor Nora Silver, who directs the Haas Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership, praised the advantages of the new learning space. “Teaching in the new I-Lab shows what education can be: active; collaborative; flexible; exciting,” she said. “As I taught ‘Social Sector Solutions for Social Enterprises’ in the I-Lab last week, I was able to vary working with the whole class, consulting with the five teams working separately and encouraging teams to move around and learn from one another. It was a wholly satisfying and exciting experience.”

Learn more about Haas’s new Innovation Laboratory.