Approximately 200 people gathered June 16 as Northwestern University officially opened the doors of The Garage, an incubator of ideas that will bring together students from every area of the University to explore innovation and entrepreneurship. And yes, the new cross-disciplinary space is housed in a real garage on the Evanston campus.


The Garage is a 24/7 hub where ideas, not companies, will be built, with a focus on a unique educational experience -- but where the right idea could eventually lead to a startup. High-quality mentorships, programming and resources will help Northwestern students develop and accelerate ideas.

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University trustees and top administrators, donors, alumni, entrepreneurial students and other supporters celebrated The Garage’s dedication. In a nod to a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, supporters cut yellow construction site-like tape, while Chicago entrepreneur and alumnus Rishi Shah '09 ceremonially lifted the space’s garage-style doors. The Garage is located on the second floor of a recently built parking garage on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

President Morton Schapiro told the purple-clad crowd, gathered in one of the new classroom spaces, that The Garage builds on Northwestern’s tradition of success in pioneering innovation and discovery and its emphasis on left brain-right brain thinking.

“Northwestern is about entrepreneurs,” President Schapiro said about the culture that has blossomed at the University in the last decade, citing popular programs such as the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice in the Kellogg School of Management. “We have a lot of programs, but what we never had before this was the space. Now we have this absolutely magnificent space.”

In thanking the many people who made The Garage a reality, he singled out Alicia Löffler, executive director of Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO), for her “perseverance and brilliance.” Löffler, who stood as President Schapiro and others applauded, stressed earlier that The Garage will be open to all students and provide an incredible coaching space where they can learn the importance of failure on the way to success.

President Schapiro emphasized the important role The Garage will play in Northwestern’s strategic goal of integrating learning both inside and outside the classroom. “I can’t wait to visit and see all the magic that is taking place here,” he said.

The 11,000 square feet of flexible space will allow the University’s greatest innovation and entrepreneurship assets -- its students, across all disciplines -- to congregate, collaborate and create under one roof. Mentors from Northwestern and around the world and a special partnership with Chicago incubator 1871 will connect students to talent and opportunities off campus.

Prior to the program of remarks, invited guests explored the bright new space, which includes two larger spaces for workshops and classes, a prototyping area, a 3-D printer for testing ideas, two high-tech boards for visual collaboration, an open-plan kitchen, flexible meeting space, a large lounge space, privacy booths and offices.

To read the complete story, visit the Northwestern News Center.