Apparently Harvard University opened their own Innovation Lab (i-Lab) this week, dedicated to launching young entrepreneurs into the public. Consequently I'm disappointed by the news that their project shares the same name, a similar vision, and has the same timing as my own. The positive side is that I believe my project is very unique in its conception, as the program draws from my own inter-disciplianry education in art & design, urban planning, computer science and work experience in conflict zones. Arguably, I like to think that working with Afghan students to facilitate local community problem solving through such creative measures is far more innovative than providing privileged Harvard students with more tools to be financially successful.
I strongly believe in the program I have crafted and I fully intend to see it through. Yet it very difficult to conduct such a program in Afghanistan. We have finite resources in terms of money and space, problems with security, aggressive traffic, power outages, poor internet service... the list goes on for a long, long time. Working with so many obstacles, I've aggressively sought partners to contribute to the program, and yet nearly 20 universities, nonprofits, or companies failed to respond or simply said it is too intimidating to get involved. However, there have been successes, and I am very lucky to have found the interests of spatial technology company Spatial Networks and the dynamic science journalist John Bohannon. With their support (and hopefully others), hard work, and student dedication, I am fully confident that our program will accomplish its goals. For now however, I'm left wondering if I should change the name.