Noted Energy Pioneer Increases Gift to Chicago Booth to $15 Million
Michael P. Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship to expand its venture creation
efforts across the University of Chicago campus
CHICAGO -- December 04, 2012
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, today increased his total gift to $15
million, 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.
Importantly, today’s gift 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
“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.”
“We are grateful to Michael Polsky for his generosity,” said Robert J. Zimmer,
president of the University of Chicago. “The possibilities for translating new
ideas into practical applications as a vehicle for the impact of faculty work
span a broad segment of the University. By expanding the mission of the Polsky
Center, we are able to bring together the strengths of Chicago Booth
scholarship and education on entrepreneurship with new focal points of
innovation, such as the Institute for Molecular Engineering and the Institute
for Translational Medicine. It will also serve and enhance the growing
interest in entrepreneurship and innovation among our College students.”
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.
Demand for additional support and programming from the Polsky Center has
increased significantly in recent years. During the 2011-12 academic year,
Booth’s Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge received a record 160
applications from student teams who compete for $335,000 in prize money and
business services. The program, now in its 17th year, helped launch more than
85 companies that have raised nearly $300 million in funding and created more
than 1,300 jobs. These companies include GrubHub, Braintree and Bump, which
have been funded by some of the world’s top venture capital firms, including
Accel, Benchmark, NEA and Sequoia.
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.
“The Polsky Center has had great success developing entrepreneurial Booth
students and helping them launch and grow their businesses. We look forward to
continuing with Booth students and expanding to work with students and faculty
across the University,” said Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished
Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at Booth and faculty
director of the Polsky Center.
The expanded programs to be offered by the Polsky Center will be led by the
same leadership that has been in place at the Center since its inception in
2002, which includes Kaplan and Ellen Rudnick, who directs the day-to-day
operations as executive director of the Polsky Center and clinical professor
Michael Polsky grew up in Ukraine under Soviet rule. “It was the classic
Soviet Union situation – very political, no freedoms, no opportunities,” said
Polsky, adding that university admission in particular “was not easy,
particularly because I am Jewish.” After receiving a degree in mechanical
engineering at Kiev Polytechnic Institute, he spent three years designing
power plants before immigrating to the United States in 1976.
Several years later, in 1982, Polsky was a supervising engineer at
professional services company Fluor-Daniel when 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
After Indeck, Polsky formed Sky Gen Energy in 1991, which developed, owned and
operated electric power generation facilities in North America. After its 2001
purchase by Calpine Corp., Polsky formed Invenergy (www.invenergyllc.com). A
leading force in power supply diversification, Invenergy develops, owns and
operates clean energy generation facilities in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Polsky has often credited his Booth education for his success, saying the
school “has given me a complete package as an entrepreneur.”
Chicago Booth is one of the leading business schools in the world. The
school’s faculty includes many renowned scholars and its graduates include
many business leaders across the U.S. and worldwide. The Chicago approach to
management education is distinguished by how it leverages fundamental
knowledge, its rigor and its practical application to business challenges. For
more information visit www.ChicagoBooth.edu.
For further information, contact Allan Friedman at 773-702-9232 or
allan.friedman@ChicagoBooth.edu, or Ethan Grove at 773-834-5161 or
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Allan Friedman, 773-702-9232
Ethan Grove, 773-834-5161
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