Dr. Maria Blekher Talks About YU’s Innovation Lab

Innovation, Creativity and Collaboration All in One Location

Dr. Maria BlekherDr. Maria Blekher is a busy woman.

She is professor of digital strategies and director of both the YU Innovation Lab and the MS in Digital Marketing and Media at the Katz School of Science and Health.

She also regularly speaks at industry events, providing thought leadership around such key topics as innovation, technology, marketing and privacy.

Her latest appearance was on Thursday, March 28, 2019, at “Privacy & Innovation,” sponsored by SOSA NYC and Cyber NYC, where she joined Dr. Yafit Lev-Artez, assistant professor of law at Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, for a no-holds-barred discussion on how ethics and algorithms challenge our notion of privacy in the digital age. Next up for Dr. Blekher is an appearance on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, before YU’s Data Analytics Club.

But what really occupies her time between teaching and speaking is YU’s Innovation Lab, which has its official ribbon-cutting on Thursday, May 16, 2019.

Dr. Blekher sat down with YU Insider to talk about the Innovation Lab and the part it will play in developing future YU entrepreneurs.

Dr. Blekher, can you give us a brief description of the Innovation Lab?
The YU Innovation Lab is a New York City-based launch pad for Israeli startups looking to expand and accelerate their growth in U.S. markets. We envision the Lab as a dynamic partnership among Israeli entrepreneurs and YU’s community of highly skilled and motivated YU students and faculty experts. Much of this is being made possible through a collaboration with Yissum, the technology transfer company of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Down the road, we expect the Innovation Lab to become the hub of a broader University-wide initiative in entrepreneurial innovation that encompasses multiple YU schools.

Can you be more specific about some of the tangible benefits that Israel startups will receive?
In addition to gaining access to our terrific pool of student talent, the Lab will offer participating startups legal advice from expert lawyers, professional workshops and events that link to New York City’s tech community, access to investment and funding opportunities and advice from YU faculty experts on how to develop marketing strategies.

What’s in it for YU students?
One of the huge benefits of the Innovation Lab, from a student perspective, is the hands-on learning opportunities it offers. Ultimately, it is those experiences that will foster their entrepreneurial spirit and give them the confidence, drive and know-how to start their own companies.

What excites you the most about the Innovation Lab?
The fact that it’s happening at YU. Because of our unique position, we offer startups the chance to connect with New York City business resources and collaborate with world-class students and faculty to transform great business ideas into reality. In the long run, I see YU’s Innovation Lab shaping a generation of forward-thinking entrepreneurs who can provide the kind of leadership that aligns with Jewish values.