Disruption Lab

We are pioneers of possibility

Global challenges are changing business and society in unpredictable ways and with accelerating speed. Clearly, it’s no longer business as usual, and the future depends on leaders who have the skills, agility, and creativity to anticipate disruptive events and forge new paths. The Disruption Lab is here to cultivate those leaders. 

Here, students, faculty, and partners engage to explore disruptive forces and use a bold, imaginative approach to advance new ideas. We’re combining a disruptive thinking framework and early exposure to emerging technologies to solve tomorrow’s problems.

With the support of founding partner Ernst & Young LLP (EY US), we present students with a transformational opportunity to think differently and challenge the status quo. EY’s purpose—to build a better working world – is evident in the importance they place on succeeding through disruption, making them natural partners. 

We accelerate the learning curve.

Disruptive forces such as emerging technology, social activism, political instability, health outbreaks, and natural disasters all threaten the viability of businesses and turn the status quo on its head. Business leaders must not only prepare for disruption, but also develop innovative ways of thinking to succeed through rapid change.

We offer students early opportunities to explore breakthrough technologies, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain, and more. Through Lab projects, students collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to deliver a viable product that has future application, adding an entrepreneurial dimension to their learning. 

Solving tomorrow's problems today

The Lab gives companies a chance to tap into some of the brightest minds the University of Illinois has to offer as well as teach those students about the challenges and opportunities for disruption in their own industries.

Connecting industry partners with innovative student minds and new ways of thinking allows participating organizations the opportunity to share their expertise with students and, perhaps in the process, gain a new perspective on the forces disrupting their industries.

Research that brings business and technology together

The wealth of information available today has fundamentally changed our world. Our dedication to research and our outstanding Disruption Lab Fellows uniquely position us to pioneer leading-edge breakthroughs in business education and teach our students to develop fresh ideas to solve important societal challenges.

It’s how we expand the research enterprise and connect the campus and the business communities to create new entrepreneurial opportunities. It’s how our Disruption Lab makes a difference for students—and for business.

Disruption Lab Leadership

Robert Brunner, Gies College of Business - Chief Disruption Officer

Dan Cermak, School of Information Sciences - Fellow

Josh Herbold, Gies College of Business - Fellow

Jamie Nelson, Center for Innovation and Technology in Learning - Fellow

Gies News and Events

news item picture

Deloitte’s Fleurimond to speak, explore future of higher education

Gies MBA alumna Betty Fleurimond is using her acumen in technology and business strategy in the fastest growing sector at Deloitte – higher education – as chair of the Deloitte Center for Higher Education Excellence and National Higher Education Cloud ERP portfolio leader.

news item picture

Professor explores what’s driving IPOs during the pandemic

Cash from more than $1 trillion in savings is creating pent up demand for IPOs, according to Nerissa Brown, associate professor of accountancy at Gies College of Business and a nationally recognized expert on financial reporting and IPOs.

news item picture

Gies iMSA student lands SEC internship

Jody Hrazanek, who is expected to graduate in May 2022 from Gies' online master's in accounting (iMSA) program, was recently accepted into the Security and Exchange Commission’s Student Honors internship program.