UChicago Innovation Fund has been renamed to George Shultz Innovation Fund following a $10m donation in honour of the former Chicago Booth dean and US secretary of state.

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the commercialisation arm of University of Chicago, has renamed its UChicago Innovation Fund to George Shultz Innovation Fund.

The rebranding follows a $10m gift to the fund by Mary Tolan, a university trustee and alumna of the Booth School of Business. Tolan expressed her wish for the fund to be renamed in Shultz’s honour, recognising his contributions to the university and his country.

Shultz (pictured) joined the faculty of Chicago Booth in 1957 as professor of industrial relations before serving as the school’s dean from 1962 to 1969.

He went on to become Secretary of Labor under president Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1970 and director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1970 until 1972.

In 1972, Nixon selected him as Secretary of the Treasury – a position that Shultz held until 1974 shortly before the Nixon administration collapsed following the Watergate scandal.

Shultz then turned to the private sector, becoming executive vice-president of engineering and services company Bechtel, later becoming its president and a director.

In 1982, he returned to politics when president Ronald Reagan appointed him as Secretary of State. He left office in 1989 but has remained involved in politics – for example, he was an advocate for George W. Bush to run for president and served as an adviser on his presidential campaign in 2000.

The George Shultz Innovation Fund invests in companies emerging out of University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab and Marine Biological Laboratory.

Twice a year, it selects five companies to undergo a rigorous 10-week due diligence process that includes mentoring and gives each team access to a multi-discplinary team of five or six student associates. The teams then pitch at a demo day in front of the advisory committee to secure funding.

The fund has invested more than $6m in 58 companies to date, typically providing between $100,000 to $250,000 per deal.

Jason Pariso, director at the Polsky Center who oversees the fund, said: “It is such a honour to have our fund associated with someone as distinguished as George Shultz – someone who has made such an impact in the world.

“It is fitting since the core mission of the fund is to help researchers turn their ground-breaking innovations into ventures and solutions that can create a lasting impact for humankind.”

– Image of George Shultz courtesy of University of Chicago