Jay Schrankler to lead the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Jay Schrankler, a technology commercialization expert and former business executive, has been appointed associate vice president and head of the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His appointment is effective Aug. 1.

In this new role, Schrankler will oversee the Polsky Center and work closely with deans, faculty, and other University leaders to develop and execute a comprehensive innovation strategy that integrates entrepreneurship and scientific commercialization initiatives across the University. His role will include enhancing opportunities to partner with private- and public-sector organizations looking to collaborate with UChicago on innovative research and technology development. He will lead the next phase of the Polsky Center’s ongoing expansion plans, as well as the launch of new programs and resources at the University’s international campuses and centers in Hong Kong, London, Paris, Delhi and elsewhere.

“Jay’s appointment comes at an important time as the Polsky Center continues to expand its entrepreneurship education and technology commercialization support for faculty, staff, students, alumni and community entrepreneurs—both on campus and internationally,” said Bala Srinivasan, vice president for strategy and innovation and chief international officer, and deputy provost at the University of Chicago. “His extensive leadership experience and proven track record will allow us to move faster on our bold ambitions.”

“I am thrilled to welcome Jay to the University of Chicago and to partner with him on the Polsky Center’s next phase of growth,” said Madhav V. Rajan, dean of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting. “His ability to work across disciplines will enable Chicago Booth to deepen its connections across the University and among the venture and corporate communities. We look forward to working with Jay to accelerate the pace of bringing new ideas to the marketplace.”

Prior to joining the University, Schrankler was associate vice president of the Office for Technology Commercialization at the University of Minnesota, where he transformed the organization into a top-rated university technology transfer office. Under his leadership, the office generated more than $550 million in revenue over 10 years, drove steady increases in licensing activity and industry-sponsored research, and startups launched during this period have raised $420 million to date. Before that, he served in various senior executive management and global leadership positions at Honeywell, spanning the company’s space systems, automation and environmental controls divisions. He is also the founder of Aero1217, an aviation technology accelerator based in Minneapolis.

Schrankler earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Wisconsin.

“I am deeply honored to join the University of Chicago and serve as the new head of the Polsky Center,” Schrankler said. “The University’s great reputation, coupled with the longtime success of the Polsky Center, provide a tremendous opportunity for the future. I’m eager to get to work harnessing the Polsky Center’s existing momentum and scaling it to entirely new levels.”

Rapid growth and expansion

Three years ago the Polsky Center received a gift from University Trustee Michael Polsky, founder and CEO of Invenergy and an alumnus of Chicago Booth, to unite all of the innovation activities across campus under a single umbrella. As a result, the entrepreneurship curriculum and programs at Chicago Booth, UChicago’s technology transfer office, the 34,000-square-foot startup facility and fabrication lab located on 53rd Street in Hyde Park, and the multi-million dollar George Shultz Innovation Fund, are all now part of the unified Polsky Center organization.

In December 2016, the University designated $25 million from its endowment to invest in startups affiliated with the University. In 2017, the Polsky Center announced new partnerships with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Army Research Lab. In 2018, the Polsky Center launched the fifth track of its nationally ranked Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge program to support all alumni of UChicago who are in the process of launching a startup. In March 2019, the Polsky Center partnered with the Chicago Booth Angels Network of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area to host the inaugural BóLè Tech Investor Forum at The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus, bringing together more than 150 investors, entrepreneurs, alumni and business leaders in the region.

“We are looking forward to welcoming Jay and continuing the great success we have had in developing companies and commercializing technologies at the University,” said Steven N. Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at Chicago Booth and the Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director at the Polsky Center.

The news comes in the final week of UChicago Innovation Fest, an annual celebration led by the Polsky Center that showcases the University of Chicago’s leadership in innovation, entrepreneurship and research commercialization, scientific advancements, and social and global impact. Spanning six weeks, this year’s Innovation Fest features more than 30 events and culminates with the 23rd annual finals of the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge and UChicago Alumni Weekend 2019.