The Lubrizol Foundation invests in CWRU's think[box]

Leading innovators whose roots date back to the early 20th century have come together to seed the same spirit in those of the 21st.

The Lubrizol Foundation, The Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust and The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation have committed a total of $2 million for think[ box ], Case Western Reserve’s seven-story, $35 million project devoted to creativity, product development and entrepreneurship.

“We are extremely honored to receive this significant award from The Lubrizol Foundation and the Kent and Kelvin Smith Foundations, as it furthers our vision of bringing think[ box ] to full capacity to inspire, facilitate and encourage innovation, from idea to established startup, all under one roof,” said Barbara R. Snyder, president, Case Western Reserve University. “The investment magnificently upholds the corporation and family’s respective legacies and visions. It is only fitting for Case Western Reserve student teams to work on the next great Northeast Ohio innovation success story and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams under the Lubrizol and Smith Foundations’ names.”

The Lubrizol Foundation contributed a leadership grant of $1 million and The Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust and the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation each contributed $500,000.

In recognition of the support, Case Western Reserve will name level four of think[ box ] The Lubrizol and Kent and Kelvin Smith Foundations Floor. This floor is dedicated to bringing individuals and teams together to assemble and fabricate ideas and concepts.

Brothers Kent and Kelvin Smith each earned degrees from the university (in 1917 and 1922, respectively), and joined with classmate Alex Nason and others to launch Graphite Oil Products Corp. in 1928. Nearly a century later, that startup has become Lubrizol, a multibillion-dollar global entity with some 8,000 employees. The brothers transformed their financial success into community-changing philanthropy, and Kent even went on to serve as a trustee and president at the university.

Already a pilot space less than a tenth of the size of the fully realized center, think[ box ] has drawn 3,000 visits per month and spurred multiple student startups. The initiative has won attention from the White House and national media, support from the state of the Ohio, and extraordinary foundation and individual donor investment. Renovations on the first four floors of the Richey-Mixon Building began in the fall of 2014, and that space is scheduled to open this fall. Once all of the renovations are completed, think[ box ] will be one of the largest university-based innovation centers in the world.


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