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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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Kaveh Abhari, Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation Kaveh Abhari, Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation

Kaveh Abhari Named Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation

He plans to help local start-ups in underserved communities through digital technologies.
By SDSU News Team

Kaveh Abhari, a management information systems professor at San Diego State University’s Fowler College of Business, has been named Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation starting in the spring 2022 semester.

Abhari is the founder of SDSU’s Digital Innovation Lab (DiLab) and works to expand digital technologies to underserved communities. He established the DiLab with the objective of creating innovations that enhance people’s lives through the design, adoption, and dissemination of digital technologies while developing “compassionate digital transformation leaders.”

To be considered for the Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation, SDSU faculty members submit a proposal outlining their plans for enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship efforts at the university by creating new learning opportunities for students of all majors. This may include the creation of new courses and interdisciplinary team-teaching of innovation-based courses or working with students in living or learning communities.

As the incoming Zahn Professor, Abhari plans to propose a new digital entrepreneurship minor.

He intends to engage SDSU undergraduate students in at least 20 community projects that focus on providing technological solutions to local start-up businesses and organizations within underserved communities on a pro bono basis. Possible solutions could include assistance with application design, systems analysis or online business development.

Abhari also plans to coordinate collaboration between DiLab students and student teams participating in SDSU’s Zahn Innovation Platform (ZIP) Launchpad, SDSU’s start-up incubator. He said this collaboration would allow the ZIP Launchpad’s student teams to benefit from the DiLab students’ technical knowledge while providing DiLab students with the skills to support budding entrepreneurs in real-world settings.  

“Kaveh is a true leader in entrepreneurial thinking on SDSU’s campus, and he is a respected mentor and innovator,” said Hala Madanat, interim vice president for research and innovation. “His idea to connect students with local start-ups in underserved communities — building on his existing work of expanding access to digital technologies — exemplifies how SDSU is both a great place for our students to experience entrepreneurship and a valuable community partner in San Diego.”

Abhari’s two-year appointment was made possible through a $5.1 million endowed gift in 2015 from the Moxie Foundation, which is advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at SDSU. Open to tenured faculty, the Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation professorship provides two semesters of class release time to allow the selected appointee the necessary time to implement their proposal.

“My goal is to create and sustain a pipeline of SDSU graduates with entrepreneurial competencies, (and) drive confidence in addressing societal challenges through digital innovation,” said Abhari. “As the Zahn Professor of Creativity and Innovation, my proposed teaching, mentorship, and research plans can help me to nurture the next generation of digital entrepreneurs who can address societal problems with care and compassion.”