Major Gift Helps Chicago Booth Expand Venture Creation Efforts

Chicago energy entrepreneur Michael Polsky, who in 2002 donated $7 million to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to create the Michael P. Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship, increased his total gift to $15 million earlier this week, the school announced. The additional $8 million will enable Booth’s Polsky Center to serve as a venture creation engine for the entire university.

As a result of its expanded mission and the university’s commitment to developing entrepreneurial and innovative leaders, the Center will now be called the Michael P. Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The funds will create new multidisciplinary programs; provide resources and space for cross-campus interdisciplinary teams to collaborate on new venture development; and support the university’s growing innovation initiatives.

“This gift will enable the Polsky Center to expand its mission of encouraging entrepreneurship, which drives our economy and is the core of the American spirit,” said Polsky, a 1987 graduate of Booth’s MBA program. Polsky is the founder and chief executive of Chicago-based Invenergy, a leading global clean energy company that is North America’s largest independent privately owned wind power generation company.

“Entrepreneurs lead the way in innovation and job creation, which in turn benefits our entire society,” Polsky said. “I am proud that we are investing further in our efforts to foster and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit among the entire University of Chicago community.”

“This gift will allow us to have more direct impact on the commercialization of the University’s intellectual property,” said Sunil Kumar, dean of Chicago Booth. “It will provide more opportunities for our business school students to interact with others across the University, and more opportunities for them to create new ventures.”

Entrepreneurship has grown so much in popularity among Booth MBA students that a majority of students who enrolled in the school this year listed it as their top intended concentration, Kumar said.

The expanded mission of the Polsky Center comes after more than 10 years of development and success. With Polsky’s endowment in 2002, the Center created substantial programs and activities in six key areas: new venture creation, experiential learning and entrepreneurial education, faculty research, community outreach, innovation workshops and early stage investment.

Michael Polsky grew up in Ukraine under Soviet rule and immigrated to the United States in 1976. Several years later, in 1982, he enrolled in Booth’s Evening MBA program. Midway through his studies, Polsky took his first entrepreneurial step when he co-founded Indeck Energy Services, a developer and builder of power plants. Polsky has often credited his Booth education for his success, saying the school “has given me a complete package as an entrepreneur.”

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