Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation–moving ideas from their earliest stages to global impact–lies at the heart of every research project and activity at MIT. It led to the invention of radar, email, and rapid genome sequencing and to the deployment of 3D printers, new diagnostics, and life-changing sanitation. More than ever before, the world needs the kind of ingenuity that brought us these changes. At MIT, we have not only the tools to come up with the next meaningful innovation, but also the means to deliver it to society, shortening the journey from idea to impact, at every scale and in any context.

The proof is in our action: on campus and by our alumni throughout their careers. In a study published in December 2015, MIT Sloan faculty members Edward Roberts and Fiona Murray, along with graduate student J. Daniel Kim, looked at the global influence of companies started by MIT graduates: 30,200 active companies. 4.6 million employees. $1.9 trillion in annual revenues, an amount larger than the GDP of all but 9 countries.

At MIT Sloan, innovation is central to what we do. Whether we are designing new approaches to business, developing new models to transform markets, fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems around the globe, or bringing new ideas to market through the creation of new ventures, our faculty and students are building a better future.

The MIT Innovation Initiative

MIT’s vision for innovation requires the expansion of our academic programs, research capabilities, and physical infrastructure. Shortening the time from discovery to practical widespread application necessitates greater collaboration at MIT and new partnerships around the world. All of this work requires the MIT Innovation Initiative (MITii).

The MIT Innovation Initiative supports MIT’s ambitious vision for enhancing its commitment to solving global challenges and leveraging its global impact through innovation and entrepreneurship. MITii strengthens and expands MIT’s “Idea-to-Impact” innovation capabilities by building new educational programs in innovation and entrepreneurship for students at all stages of their education, cultivating local and global innovation communities to work with us, and developing the physical infrastructure to support innovation on campus and across the globe. Co-directed by Professors Vladimir Bulović and Fiona Murray, MITii represents MIT’s more integrated approach to innovation and entrepreneurship across all five schools.

In 2016, the MITii launched the first Undergraduate Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation as a joint effort between MIT Sloan and  the School of Engineering. It is now supporting a wealth of innovation and entrepreneurship student clubs and programs across campus, and linking the work of making and manufacturing to the community of innovators and entrepreneurs.

The MIT Innovation Initiative is also committed to balancing the art of innovation with the science of innovation–a more systematic, evidence-based approach to innovation and entrepreneurship. By bringing MIT’s practical experience and new research in innovation to the world, we will create the leadership and expertise necessary for innovation-driven growth in particular regions—and will give MIT students and faculty a richer set of global opportunities to inform their education and research. Whether through action learning opportunities, innovation fellows and diplomats, or grants to analyze critical policy and program questions, the MIT Innovation Initiative will bring MIT’s brand of innovation to the world.

Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship

MIT is inventing the future—unleashing the spark of innovation that will change the world. Our community is driven by a passion to solve significant problems through innovation, combining the power of cutting-edge ideas and the capability to build new entrepreneurial ventures. The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, serving all five schools at MIT, supports entrepreneurship activities for students in all stages of their education. The Martin Trust Center is led by Managing Director Bill Aulet and Faculty Director, Founder and Chair Edward Roberts.

The Martin Trust Center provides the tools and capabilities that encourage MIT students to imagine and create companies, while developing lifelong entrepreneurial skills. Whether through courses, hackathons, competitions, or conferences,  Martin Trust Center students find business partners, ask difficult questions, and spark new ideas. However, the work doesn’t stop upon graduation.

Beyond MIT’s enrolled students, the Martin Trust Center has applied entrepreneurship principles around the world to audiences with different backgrounds. In 2014, Bill Aulet offered MIT Sloan’s first EdX online course to an audience of over 50,000 learners; this course culminated in a Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, with select entrepreneurs applying online skills to create real businesses. In 2016, MIT LAUNCH, an intensive entrepreneurship training program for high school students, launched an online version, and saw 25,000 enrollments in the first week.

The Martin Trust Center not only supports innovation by students, but also represents innovation in its work, continually finding new ways to encourage, advise, and support aspiring entrepreneurs as they take new ventures from idea to reality.

Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship at MIT

Innovation-driven entrepreneurship is a powerful mechanism for alleviating poverty and accelerating prosperity around the world. Innovation is a mechanism for developing life-changing solutions to the world’s toughest challenges—and entrepreneurship is a vehicle for bringing these ideas to life in a smart and sustainable way, while creating jobs, increasing incomes, and giving communities an economic voice to grow and prosper.

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT is focused on alleviating poverty and accelerating prosperity around the world through this innovation-driven entrepreneurship framework. The Legatum Center creates academic and experiential programming to train the next generation of principled entrepreneurial leaders that are optimized for impact.

For students in the earliest exploratory stages, the Legatum Center offers action-oriented programming and seed funding to immerse them in international ecosystems and  to validate their ideas. Students who have advanced past the ideation stage are eligible for the Legatum Fellowship, a yearlong fellowship to train principled entrepreneurial leaders for the developing world and transition from the classroom to the community. The Legatum Center also develops other components to support the entrepreneurship and development community at MIT, including specialized curriculum, mentorship, action-oriented events, and research projects.

To exponentially increase their impact, the Legatum Center offers channels for entrepreneurs across the world to access and leverage MIT entrepreneurship resources through structured competitions and bootcamps held on the ground in developing countries.

The students who work with and participate in Legatum Center programs foster prosperity by supporting the creation of thousands of jobs and increasing the average income per person, while scaling innovations that increase life expectancy, provide better education, enhance quality of living, or increase productivity. They also become change agents and role models for future generations of high-impact entrepreneurs. The Legatum Center’s vision for the next five years is to have significant on-the-ground impact, catalyzing the creation of hundreds of new ventures, engaging and training thousands of entrepreneurs, and empowering them as they scale to benefit the lives of millions around the world.

MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program

The MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) brings the Institute’s deep knowledge of innovation-driven entrepreneurship and innovation science to the world through a novel curricular approach. Focused on bringing together stakeholders from specific regions, every MIT REAP team works with MIT faculty over a twoyear period (with four on-campus workshops), and each team includes individuals from government, risk capital, academia, entrepreneurship, and industry.

Working with a cohort of eight MIT REAP teams each year, MIT faculty members help these regions and the leaders in the program accelerate economic growth and job creation through careful analysis, strategic planning, and collective action. Participants learn about MIT’s research and frameworks, develop an entrepreneurship acceleration strategy, and begin implementation. Each MIT REAP cohort benefits from the others’ work through bi-annual workshops where all of the teams come together and through ongoing communications throughout the two-year engagement.

Global in focus, the program allows MIT to work closely with thoughtful leaders around the world, apply research-based frameworks in practice, and learn from and disseminate best practices. MIT REAP will also continue to cultivate a global community of regions and individuals interested in ecosystem development. Though designed for an external audience, REAP builds on many of the proven tenets of MIT Sloan’s action learning model of learning by doing to support participants as they actively address their regional challenges and opportunities.

The Initiative on the Digital Economy

The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) conducts groundbreaking research on how people and businesses will prosper in an era of digital transformation. Whether examining economic growth, the reinvention of work, new business models, big data, privacy, social analytics, or digital experimentation, the IDE seeks real-world solutions to the challenges and opportunities of the digital economy.

The MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition (IIC), launched in 2016 in collaboration with the MIT Innovation Initiative, represents an inventive approach to generating these solutions. The IIC calls on entrepreneurs and innovative organizations to submit their solutions for improving economic opportunity for middle- and base-level income earners. The IDE believes the innovations submitted for the competition will benefit the groups often left behind as technology races ahead.

The IIC is tapping into the collective capabilities of the world to inspire, innovate, and push the boundaries for organizations seeking to improve economic prospects for workers in the digital era. By crowd-sourcing ideas and solutions, the IIC is exploring the limits of possibility–changing the world for the better by identifying and celebrating inventive organizations and new employment opportunities.