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URBANA — The University of Illinois Gies College of Business announced a new effort Tuesday to encourage innovation.

Called the Disruption Lab, it’s designed to help both students and corporate partners, the first being the accounting giant Ernst & Young.

The program won’t have a physical space, and not everything is set in stone yet, according to Robert Brunner, the college’s chief disruption officer.

“The challenge here is we’ve intentionally not fully defined the lab because we don’t want to be boxed in, in any way,” he said.

The corporate partners may be companies that want to better understand disruptive technologies, and they may also provide guidance to interested students

Ernst & Young, for example, will be providing a financial commitment, Gies Dean Jeffrey Brown said, as well as advice and expertise.

Local companies could also be part of the lab, though Brunner said “it’s easiest to focus at least at the start on ... the bigger companies, particularly in our state.”

The lab will revolve around student projects, which Brunner said have been in the works for the past year.

“We started a couple semesters ago, just trying to see how this might work,” he said. “We’re rolling more out this spring, bringing students together on these student teams.”

Brunner envisions getting 100 to 200 students involved in the Disruption Lab fairly quickly.

The lab will be open to students from across the university.

The UI has a number of initiatives geared toward entrepreneurs, from the Research Park to the iVenture Accelerator to the Cozad New Venture Challenge.

Brunner said there’s “a gap in this space, in this entrepreneurial community and entrepreneurial landscape for exactly this, which is to bring students interested in something together, where maybe they haven’t built something with that technology or built an application, but help them, nurture them, give them some guidance.”

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