Did you know that MIT alumni have founded more than 25,800 companies worldwide? That the annual world sales of those enterprises equals approximately $2 trillion? That if those companies formed an independent nation, their combined revenues would make it the 11th-largest economy in the world? And those figures, from an independent study published by the Kauffman Foundation in 2009, have only increased since then. The force behind these statistics? Innovation, and the unique MIT ecosystem that cultivates it.
In this issue of the MIT Sloan Fellows Newsletter, we’ll explore MIT’s powerful culture of invention and some of the game-changing innovations it has inspired. We’ll look at MIT Sloan Fellows alumni who have skillfully tapped those resources as well as current students who are launching bold new ventures. And we’ll see ample evidence that innovation is not just for startups. Identifying ways to drive productive change is essential to healthy organizations, governments, and societies.
How have you used innovation to create or redefine your organization? Do you have success stories you’d like to share with MIT Sloan Fellows alumni? We’d love to hear them. Please drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
From its earliest days as an institution, MIT has dedicated its efforts to inventing solutions that meet the challenges facing civilization. The Institute developed radar to help win World War II, launched the study of biotech, and hosts the World Wide Web Consortium. Not surprising, it also ranks first in licensing technology to startups.
MIT Sloan Fellows have a long tradition of contributing to this track record of innovation. Alumni of the program were spinning innovations into influential organizations long before entrepreneurship was a household word. MIT Sloan Fellow Bill Porter, SF '67, for example, founded Commercial Electronics Inc. in 1968, developing the first low-light night-vision electron microscopes and the first color night-vision broadcast television camera—technology used today in all broadcast cameras. In the 1990s, Porter founded both the International Securities Exchange and the first online trading company E*Trade.
Manijeh Goldberg, SF '10, was inspired to launch the maverick healthcare startup Privo during her time as a Sloan Fellow. Already a seasoned entrepreneur when she entered the program, Goldberg had a transformational discussion with MIT Institute Professor Robert Langer after his presentation at a Sloan Fellows luncheon one day. A leading biotech visionary, Langer listened to Goldberg's ideas about improving the quality of healthcare and encouraged her to pursue her revolutionary ideas, which included insulin chewing gum. "A venture should have two qualities," she remembers Langer saying, "it must create value for society, and it must work as a viable business." Under those criteria, she felt Privo could be a winner. The judges for the venerable MIT $100K Competition agreed—Privo won the MIT $100K Best Product and Services track in 2010.
Goldberg believed that the MIT Sloan Fellows Program was the most productive way to prepare for her next venture. "MIT is synonymous with innovation and entrepreneurship. As a lifelong entrepreneur, it had to be my next step." she says. "I knew that in one year as a Sloan Fellow I could increase my essential business knowledge, connect with the most accomplished enterprise network there is, and access resources that I would not find anywhere else."
Marsha Warren, Associate Director of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, points out that the great benefit of the program is not as a launching pad for startups, but as a laboratory for exploring innovation. "MIT is a safe and inspiring place to investigate the principles of successful entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. That is the real magic of the program—the experience, not the outcome. It's about place and process, about having the rare opportunity to question and test in a low-risk environment and develop as a leader who can drive innovation. Fellows then apply those lessons in myriad realms across their careers and their lives."
Programs and centers across MIT foster innovation, inspire the creation of new businesses, and prepare leaders to guide existing organizations into the future:
Entrepreneurial spirit is a difficult thing to quantify, but by any measure, the MIT Sloan Fellows Class of 2012 has it in abundance. JanusData, a team fueled entirely by MIT Sloan Fellows, just won the MIT Thomson Reuters Data Prize, a component of the MIT $100K Competition. The team was awarded the $10,000 data prize for their "innovative and impactful approach to data aggregation and analysis," according to the contest judges. And JanusData was just one of several $100K teams that included Sloan Fellows.
Miriam Reyes, SF '12, was actually a member of three teams entered in the $100K Competition—two of them, Vector Systems and Amana, were semifinalists. Although one of the three ventures failed in the earliest stages of the competition, Reyes says it was as important a learning experience as the two more successful ventures. "Choosing a cohesive team, I learned, is crucial. The team members must have a certain synchronicity of vision for the venture to work. The startup that didn't take off was based on as good an idea as the others, but the team was not in sync."
Although many fellows take advantage of the $100K to get their ventures on the map and into the marketplace, the contest is just one of many new-enterprise launching pads at the Institute. MIT Sloan Fellow Kin Lo, SF '12, and a team of students from an MIT product development class, created an ingenious solution for navigating baby and stroller with an innovation called BuzzyBaby, recently celebrated in the Boston Globe.
Then there's Jill Sherman, SF '12, who spent her career in a number of large fashion houses, including Prada. Sherman is now creating an unusual fashion startup with Alain Miguel, MBA '13. Modalyst, their brainchild, is a virtual fashion trade show, connecting emerging designers with independent boutiques through a pre-sales collective buy. The innovation sufficiently impressed the judges of the highly competitive MIT IDEAS Global Challenge to earn the team a spot in the finals.
For social entrepreneurs in the community, the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT provides prestigious fellowships for members of the community planning to launch enterprises that could have a significant impact in low-income countries. Three members of the Class of 2012 won Legatum Fellowships this year: Abdallah Hussein Khamis, for his plan to create localized hubs for entrepreneurship across Africa; Satyajit Suri, for his online gateway for persons with disabilities in India, and Godfrey Waluse, for his idea to create mobile financial services for those in remote areas of the globe.
Many other fellows are hard at work launching innovations within multinational companies and global organizations around the globe. Watch for their stories in these pages. In fact, scroll through this issue to read about the efforts of Pascal Marmier, SF '08, Director, swissnex, and Pedro Baranda, SF '01, President of Otis Elevator.
Pascal Marmier, SF '08, is something of a frontiersman. While it's not a term usually associated with diplomats, Marmier, who has served as the Swiss consul in Boston since he graduated from the program, believes that being a productive diplomat in the 21st century requires an adventurous, inventive, even entrepreneurial spirit. Marmier has helped the Swiss government design a new model of consulate—a dynamic knowledge and networking outpost that connects two countries on multiple levels spanning industry and academia.
In 2000, when Marmier helped establish swissnex Boston, as the consulate is called, it was the world's first "science consulate." Since that time he has promoted hundreds of productive collaborations among Swiss and U.S. scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs. The model is a marked departure from the old-school consulate, which focused on staid dinner parties and travel documents.
Marmier, who graduated from the MIT Sloan Fellows Program in 2008, regards his mission as "modern day science diplomacy," and he says that his time as a fellow allowed him to enrich his vision and enhance his productivity in swissnex. "I came to realize that while my organization was dedicated to innovation—and was inspiring innovation on many fronts—internally, it was very traditional. We needed to function more as a startup and give the team more latitude to engage new frontiers. I learned from MIT Sloan Professor John Van Maanen how culture can affect outcomes. The changes we've made at swissnex have had a dramatic impact on the scope of our productivity."
Having honed the swissnex Boston prototype, Marmier is now in the process of moving to China to dedicate his efforts to the Shanghai swissnex. Once again, he is relying on his Sloan Fellows resources to accelerate his productivity. "I've been working closely with my MIT network in Cambridge, and I am able to do the same in China. That support system—classmates, MIT alumni, and faculty with special expertise in China—is in place and ready for me to tap immediately. As a result, I can start off at a much more advanced point than I could have otherwise. "
When Pedro Baranda, SF '01, was named President of Otis Elevator (a United Technologies Company) in February, he was just one year shy of his 20th anniversary with UTC. By all accounts, two things have fueled Baranda's rise through the ranks since he was first hired as a research engineer at UTC in 1993—a signature strength as a leader and a dedicated entrepreneurial bent.
With Otis, Baranda presents an exemplary model of how to infuse entrepreneurial spirit into a 150-year-old global company with 62,000 employees and customers in nearly every country on earth. In 2000, he was among a team of Otis engineers who earned the George Mead Medal, UTC's highest engineering honor, for a technological innovation that has changed the anatomy of elevators worldwide. The Gen2 elevator system raised the bar for elevator performance, eliminating the need for polluting lubricant and the disposal of hazardous waste. Just as important, Gen2 elevators reduce energy use by up to 50 percent compared to conventional systems.
Under Baranda's leadership, the Otis team is continually reinventing, methodically and strategically. The company is now working on innovations like entertainment screens that deliver information and advertising to riders, not to mention video contact with rescuers, should the lift get stuck between floors.
Baranda thinks of his company as an amalgam of smaller enterprises all dependent on innovation for their survival. "We have more than 1,000 employees responsible for finding business, satisfying customers, and making revenue targets. To do that successfully, you continually have to be creative, mining new avenues. It takes a certain kind of employee. As Arnoldo Hax would tell our Sloan Fellows class, 'Your organization's talent flow is a reliable predictor of cash flow.' In other words, you are only as good as your team. Recruiting, developing, and inspiring top talent is critical."
In pondering the arc of his career, Baranda credits his year as an MIT Sloan Fellow as instrumental in developing his leadership style and his emphasis on innovation. "Being surrounded by the entrepreneurial ethic at MIT, I really saw how powerful it is. And it reinforced my belief that an entrepreneurial culture is fundamental to the growth of any company that hopes to survive in the contemporary global marketplace."
Before the Class of 2013 even hit campus, it had broken a few records. With 120 fellows—last year's class comprised 102—the Class of 2013 represents the largest cohort since the program debuted in the 1930s. Thirty-four countries are represented—another record—and a full 22 members of the class are European nationals (last year there were 6). The industry diversity is equally noteworthy. Class of 2013 fellows come from multinational corporations and startups, healthcare companies and energy conglomerates, and play a wide variety of leadership roles in their organizations.
We deeply regret to share the sad news that Jennifer Mapes passed away on June 2 after a brave battle with cancer. Tributes are still pouring in from friends, alumni, and colleagues who were touched by Jennifer's talent and extraordinary generosity of spirit during her 34-year career at MIT.
Jennifer always had a particular passion—and a gift—for working with alumni. She began her Institute career at the MIT Alumni Association but moved to MIT Sloan in 1981, where she held a number of positions, most notably within the Management of Technology (MOT) Program and later in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program when the two programs merged.
Most recently, Jennifer had assumed a position doing what she did best—serving as a liaison to alumni of all the School's executive programs. As Dean Schmittlein said in a letter to the community, "Our alumni have always played an important role in Jennifer's career and her life, and it is clear in the notes that have been circulating throughout our community during her illness and since her passing that she had a lasting impact on their lives as well."
At a memorial service on June 10, members of the community crowded into MIT's historic chapel to remember Jennifer. The fund established in her name has been flooded with contributions, far exceeding the original target. The proceeds will be used for a bench bearing Jennifer's name, allowing members of the community to ponder her life and her impact as they look out over the People's Republic of Cambridge, as she so fondly referred to her beloved city. More information on donating to the fund >>
The MIT Sloan Fellows past and present celebrated Jennifer at the program's summer networking event in August.
Bryan Banish, SF '03, has been appointed President and CEO of Boston Semi Equipment Group (BSE Group) after serving as COO since the company's founding in 2010. BSE Group, which provides products and services for front and back-end semiconductor processes, has operations in the U.S., Philippines, Japan, and Singapore. Read more.
Adriane Brown, SF '91, President of Intellectual Ventures, was featured in The New York Times on March 24. She spoke of her first experiences as a leader and how, today, those early lessons still hold true. Members of the SF '10 class may recall her coming to campus to speak. Read more.
Cheryl Clarkson, SF '90, CEO of SkinHealth Inc. was invited to the White House on February 24 to meet with top U.S. economists and policymakers. Clarkson was selected as part of a nonpartisan group of business and civic leaders to give feedback on job creation efforts. Read more.
Tom Lazear, SF '75, CEO of Archway Systems, was recently awarded the Bentley Institute Lifetime Achievement Award. Tom was recognized "for his steadfast commitment to inspiring students, architects, and engineers to explore and innovatively apply computer technology in the service of design and engineering." Read more.
David Lucchino, SF '06, sold his company Semprus Biosciences in June. The Boston Globe article "How the Little Biotech Guys Beat Big Odds" details the chronology of Semprus from its beginnings to its eventual sale. Read more.
We’re already at work on the next MIT Sloan Fellows Program Newsletter. Please drop us a line at email@example.com if you have ideas about themes and news items for future issues.
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