CEU has made the difficult decision to close its Innovations Lab (iLab) in Budapest at the end of the 2022 calendar year. Established in 2016, the iLab has served as an important incubator for entrepreneurship, gaining recognition in Hungary and Central Europe for its work. Notable start-ups benefiting from the mentorship, coaching, and knowledge-sharing provided by the CEU iLab over the past seven years include BrokerChooser and Talk-A-Bot.
"Shepherding start-ups through the process of developing a vision into a fully-fledged company or organization delivering real results is immensely gratifying," said iLab Director, Andrea Kozma. "This is an accomplishment that the whole CEU community can take pride in," added CEU President and Rector, Shalini Randeria.
The iLab has also partnered with CEU departments to deliver courses in the International Business Law and Economics programs, also helping to incubate Physi, a spin-off of the successful EU-funded Naturvation project with Environmental Sciences and Policy students, alums, and faculty. "This is where we want the focus to be," said Randeria, "on enhancing the student experience and realizing the practical potential of our research."
While CEU remains committed to innovation in all areas of activity, she explained, the University is undertaking a strategic effort to fully integrate auxiliary activities into CEU's core mission and priorities in teaching and research. As CEU's teaching is now in Vienna, the University must center any future programs or partnerships in the area of entrepreneurship there. Doing so will ensure CEU can align such efforts with its strategic priorities to enhance the student experience, while leveraging our academic strengths to spur innovation.
The work of the iLab in Budapest will be ongoing through the end of the calendar year, and the University is engaging with iLab staff to support their career transitions, whether within or beyond CEU. Over the coming months, the CEU iLab will wind down its incubation program and transfer select partnerships to be carried forward by other units.
On behalf of the University's Board of Trustees, CEU Chair Geoffrey Smith commented, "We commend the CEU iLab's contributions to the start-up community in Hungary and Central Europe." He continued, "it is not easy to close the door on this chapter at CEU. Still, I am confident that the steps we are taking now will enable us to focus on our central goal: to make CEU the best research-intensive, English-language university focusing on the social sciences and humanities in continental Europe."