William L. Mack, W’61, established the William and Phyllis Mack Institute for Innovation Management in 2001, and it has since become a hub for innovation-related research about how firms respond to rapid market changes resulting from scientific breakthroughs and emerging technologies—for the Penn community, wider academia and the greater global business world. It has always been in the vanguard.
“When the Institute was launched, the dean [then-Dean Patrick Harker, CE’81, GCE’81, GR’83, HOM’87] was very cognizant of the fact that technological innovation and business were approaching an apex, where one could be very helpful to the other and where the Wharton School could be helpful to business, not necessarily just to research but to be helpful in business in a technologically exploding world,” Mack recalls.
Work at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management has always been interdisciplinary in nature, but that aspect will only become more prominent, particularly with the institute’s increasing advisory role in commercialization across the University—from the Perelman School of Medicine to the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to the Veterinary School and beyond, Mack explains. The institute serves to coordinate the intellectual resources of the Wharton School with the needs of science-based departments. This includes annual seminars and application workshops about technology transfer, as well as working with faculty and students on individual innovation projects.
Student involvement will also ramp up from its already intensive level. Within the Wharton MBA Program, the Mack Institute will sponsor multiple teams of Mack Fellows to engage in research opportunities created by new technologies and business models. The institute sponsors the popular, student-run BizTech Conference, which brings together entrepreneurs, investors, corporate leaders and technologists. And it funds the Y-Prize, a contest to encourage cross-disciplinary cooperation among students and the development of new solutions to industry applications.
The Mack Institute is led by co-directors George S. Day, the Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor of Marketing; Harbir Singh, the vice dean for global initiatives and the Mack Professor of Management; and Nicolaj Siggelkow, chair of the Management Department and the David M. Knott Professor of Management.