The Innovation Lab





Three female students collaborating over laptop

A space that fosters training, connections and enthusiasm. Support for innovative ventures from concept to launch. Opportunity and inspiration. At YU, students no longer have to just imagine—they can live it. With your help, they can transform their ideas into reality, bringing to life the next ground-breaking product or service that can enhance lives. Yeshiva University is poised to launch its YU Innovation Lab, a high-tech New York City-based ecosystem for Israeli and local startups. By leveraging YU’s strong ties to Israel, the Lab will be a mutually beneficial endeavor, providing pioneering Israeli companies with a foothold in the American market while giving students hands-on experience with front-line entrepreneurs and emerging companies. The Innovation Lab received a generous New York State Community Capital Assistance Program grant for the expansion of a facility and the purchase of technological equipment. The grant kicked off the refurbishment of the Lab space on the Wilf Campus. The Lab presents an exceptional opportunity that will have both short- and long-term advantages for our students and the YU community at large. We look to our philanthropic community to help us make this phenomenal venture into a reality.


For students about to enter the job market and interested in pursuing a tech career, the Innovation Lab will offer a tangible advantage, including important skills-building,

Student with laptop

mentoring and networking prospects. Under a study/experience/launch model, their experience will culminate with the chance to develop their own startups, from conception to launch. The Israeli startups involved with the Lab will provide both a model and inspiration. With a population about the same as New York City, Israel has rightly earned the title of “Startup Nation” for the greatest number of new businesses per capita in the world. Israeli innovation—from the cell phone and USB flash drives to Waze and Mobileye— has brought prestige to the country and billions to their creators. Now, YU students will be able learn from these pioneering entrepreneurs, with the Innovation Lab serving as an incubator. In October 2018, the New York City Economic Development Corporation announced the launch of Cyber NYC, a $30 million “catalyzing” investment designed to rapidly grow the city’s cybersecurity infrastructure. We believe that YU is on track to be part of the City’s plans—uniting technology and science with entrepreneurship to create a viable workforce and startup ecosystem. With your support, our students will gain both experience and connections to get in on the ground floor of this burgeoning field, thanks to the advantages the Lab provides.


 Participation in the program gives startups access to the business infrastructure in New York City as well as to highly motivated YU interns and professional clinics in marketing, data analytics and more that can support business operations.


The relationship between YU and Israel is steadfast and unique. More than 5,000 Yeshiva University alumni currently live in Israel— more than any other American university or college. Ninety percent of YU students spend a year in Israel, and the University has a “GI Bill” for students who have served in the IDF and Sherut Leumi.  Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, speaks passionately about the solid connections between Israel and the University—and continues to seek ways to foster new ones. The Innovation Lab is one more way YU builds bridges to Israel that cross both ways. This cutting-edge hub is a mutually beneficial initiative, one that will yield rewards for years to come.


The Innovation Lab will allow students, faculty and startups to collaborate and tap into a vast array of resources to help develop their ideas. Their synergy will shape a generation of forward-thinking leaders who will go on to provide entrepreneurial innovation and mindful global leadership in alignment with Jewish values.


A group of students sits captivated before a screen in Dr. Maria Blekher’s applied research class, asking questions about Legally, an Israeli startup that simplifies complicated legal contracts for the lay person. The response comes from 5,600 miles away, as Nati Birman Manoim, the company’s vice-president of business development, video chats with YU students on the Wilf Campus in New York. This is no ordinary study group. Dr. Blekher’s students will take this virtual conversation and analyze Legally’s challenges and opportunities. “We’re not just reading textbooks and memorizing information, we’re applying what we’ve learned to real-life business situations,” says her student, Max Gruber. A senior at YU’s Syms School of Business, Gruber and his team are working to identify best-practice solutions based on research and data for the company. “We’re exploring how people really feel about understanding the details of their contracts and how a business can tap into their needs for clarification,” says the business intelligence and marketing analytics major. Gruber says that not only is he gaining appreciation for working with a team, but he’s mastering how to adapt his skills as situations develop. “We’re not just learning in a linear way, we’re learning that there can be varied solutions for different problems that arise,” explains Gruber, who last summer interned with Inpris, an Israeli startup that uses sightless touch technology for auto infotainment. Those skills will come in handy in a rapidly evolving, high-tech job market. And there are upcoming opportunities to learn more: This course project is part of the soft launch of the YU Innovation Lab, with more courses available at the University in the Spring and Fall 2019 semesters. “Today, there’s so much information out there, making use of the data will help companies make smarter decisions,” Gruber states. “If you know how to do that, your business will have an edge.”