|[December 04, 2012]
Noted Energy Pioneer Increases Gift to Chicago Booth to $15 Million
CHICAGO --(Business Wire)--
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 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."
"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
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
"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 of entrepreneurship.
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
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 power plants.
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
A leading force in power supply diversification, Invenergy develops,
owns and operates clean energy generation facilities in the U.S., Canada
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 ethan.grove@ChicagoBooth.edu.
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