Yeshiva University’s New Innovation Lab Inspires Creativity and Collaboration

Student Presentations Demonstrate Entrepreneurial Planning

YU’s Innovation Lab is focused on creating a hands-on entrepreneurial environment in which Israeli-based startups can grow their U.S. market potential while leveraging YU’s community of students and faculty experts. Recent student presentations exhibited multiple possibilities for both increasing the visibility of the work the Lab does as well as creating marketing plans for the companies partnering with the Lab.

Marketing Capstone class, Stern College for Women

On Friday, May 10, 2019, teams of graduating seniors in the Marketing Capstone class taught by Dr. Tamar Avnet, professor of marketing and chair of the marketing department at Yeshiva University, showcased their presentations to a panel of three judges.

The teams could choose one of two marketing challenges. The first was to increase awareness of the value the YU Innovation Lab can offer its target audience of new Israeli or YU-affiliated startup companies seeking a foothold in the United States. This challenge had a budget of $50,000.

The second was to increase awareness of the existence, mission and vision of the YU Innovation Lab and inform the audience about engagement opportunities with the Lab, such as mentoring, investing, networking, and so on, with a target audience of YU alumni and the YU community. This challenge had a budget of $20,000.

Regardless of which challenge they chose, the five student teams had to develop a media strategy and a campaign based upon that strategy to achieve their goals.

Each team presented a video and print advertisement and at least one strategy that utilized social media. The presentations also discussed branding strategies, a budget for the campaign, market trends and competitors of the Innovation Lab, among other deliverables. The students were well prepared and highly knowledgeable of all the required areas of a marketing plan and its strategies.

Three independent judges evaluated and critiqued the presentations: Dr. Maria Blekher, director of the YU Innovation Lab and MS in Digital Marketing and Media and clinical associate professor of digital strategies at the Katz School; Michael Strauss, associate dean, Sy Syms School of Business; and Moshe Isaacson, director of marketing in the Office of Marketing & Communications.

(l-r): Moshe Isaacson, Michael Strauss, Tamar Avnet, Maria Blekher

They were all impressed by the students’ initiatives, well-thought out presentations and creativity.

After the presentations, the winning team was announced: Elayne Gindi, Hannah Friedman, Emily Firestone and Ilana Lashak. “This project was the perfect end to my college career,” Gindi noted. “It had us use all of the knowledge we have gained in our four years of a marketing-focused college career in one final project. Not to mention how exciting it was to present in front of Dean Strauss, Dr. Blekher, and Mr. Isaacson!”

Dr. Avnet was also very impressed with the teams’ presentations. “It was a pleasure hearing how differently the students approached the topic. They did a fantastic job implementing what they learned into their presentations.” Dean Strauss added, “I was so impressed with the level of understanding and knowledge that these students had in order to launch the Innovation lab.”

Topics-Innovation class, Sy Syms School of Business, Wilf Campus

On Thursday, May 16, 2019, three student teams in Dr. Blekher’s “Topics-Innovation” class also gave presentations connected to the YU Innovation Lab.

Throughout the semester, each team worked with an Israeli startup partnering with the Lab to design successful business and marketing strategies for the company, which included identifying target audiences, competitors and current business challenges, among other areas, for NewStem, AquiNovo and Betalin Therapeutics.

Yosef Haber speaks to student presenters

Each presentation showed great initiative and demonstrated the thorough research done by the students. On hand to view the presentations was Yosef Haber, alliance and contacts manager of Yissum, the technology transfer company of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a strategic partner of the Lab.

One of the student presenters, Akiva Hochbaum, observed that “being a part of the YU Innovation Lab has been an incredible educational experience to learn about Israel’s role in the high-tech world. Over the last three years in Sy Syms, I have learned about a multitude of theories, ideas, skills and practices relating to the business world and have had the chance to use my skills and apply my learning to conduct market research, create presentations, work with a team and connect with industry leaders.”

Speaking of the presentations from both campuses, Dr. Maria Blekher said, “The students have done a wonderful job on their presentations for the Innovation Lab. The Beren campus students came up with exceptional ideas to help create brand awareness for the Lab in the Israeli startup community, and our Wilf campus students came up with effective business strategies for their selected startup companies.” She added, “We expect that the YU Innovation Lab will become a launch pad for Israeli startups into the NYC business ecosystem, lead experiential learning at YU and drive entrepreneurship among students.”

The opening of the Lab has generated much excitement across the University. A ribbon-cutting ceremony occurred on May 16 with University leadership, students, faculty, and elected officials from New York State and City in attendance.