"I worried I would be surrounded by competitive, type-A people who are out to cut you down. I experienced the complete opposite."
The eleventh-largest economy in the world
The scope and impact of MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem are enormous: A recent study suggests that living MIT alumni have created more than 25,800 currently active companies that employ about 3.3 million people and generate annual revenues of $2 trillion — producing the equivalent of the eleventh-largest economy in the world. Many people think that even these numbers are quite conservative.
Entrepreneurship frames the very structure of MIT. Our guiding principle and motto, “Mens et Manus,” or “Mind and Hand,” represents our mission not only to create and develop innovative ideas, but also to transform them into viable solutions to the world’s problems.
This entrepreneurial ecosystem consists of multiple education, research, and social network institutions, such as:
- Twelve developmental centers, including the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and the Venture Mentoring Service (VMS), a group of more than 100 volunteer mentors who help budding entrepreneurs with everything from business plans to product development
- More than 30 entrepreneurship courses, such as the Entrepreneurship Labs (E-Labs) and the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship & Innovation (E&I) Track
- Student-run organizations, such as the MIT $100K Business Plan Competition and the Venture Capital Private Equity (VCPE) Club
- Events and networking opportunities, including the Entrepreneur Bash and the Bio Bash
- Alumni-organized structures, such as the MIT Enterprise Forum, with chapters worldwide
At MIT Sloan, Entrepreneurial coursework offers immersion from three different perspectives to create an effective blend of learning:
- New and developing research, taught by MIT Sloan faculty, and exemplified by the course, “Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organization.”
- Practitioner-taught courses, concentrating on aspects of entrepreneurship that depend entirely upon the experience of successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. For example, the course, “New Enterprises,” lays the groundwork for business plan development for new companies.
- Project-oriented courses in which students organize in mixed teams of four or five, including participants from management, science, and engineering, to tackle real problems in entrepreneurial partner organizations. The best known of these are the very popular Entrepreneurship Laboratory (E-Lab) classes. In these classes, students devise solutions to early-stage problems of select local companies and are advised by a local entrepreneur in residence in tandem with faculty. The Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) allows students to take on problems in developing international markets, while Innovation Teams (I-Teams) give students an opportunity to examine the best ways to bring carefully chosen, MIT-developed technologies to market.
Students who have a strong entrepreneurial interest can follow the more specialized Entrepreneurship & Innovation (E&I) Track. This track allows immersion in multiple required and elective courses, as well as extracurricular activities that are specific to E&I students only.
In addition to classes, an impressive number of clubs form a key component of our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Along with MIT Sloan students, undergraduates, PhD, and post-doctoral candidates actively participate in clubs from across all MIT departments. They contribute immeasurably to creating the unique “passion for entrepreneurship” that thrives throughout MIT. Here is a sampling:
- The MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club creates networking events within MIT Sloan and connects with the Greater Boston community, other local MBA programs, and established Boston organizations.
- The Venture Capital Private Equity (VCPE) Club organizes and runs two major nationwide conferences, the MIT Venture Capital (VC) Conference in the fall and the MIT Private Equity (PE) Symposium in the spring. The VC Conference is one of the largest and most prominent VC gatherings in the country, with more than 500 attendees each year, while the PE Symposium attracts 300-400 industry professionals and students.
- TechLink, the largest club on campus with 1,200 members, organizes “treks” to dozens of companies each year, from startups to industry icons, like Apple and Cisco.
- The MIT Innovation Club centers its activities on helping its members to generate new ideas and commercialize cutting-edge technologies.
- Other groups include Finance, Astropreneurs, BioPharma Business, Energy, Mobile Media and Internet Technology, NeuroTech, and the NanoTech and TinyTech Clubs, which educate and connect their members to startup businesses and to new ideas in their fields.
Events and Conferences
The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship has created a powerful network of entrepreneurs who advise and assist one other in starting new ventures, and reaches well beyond MIT’s borders to further expand students’ options. Along with offering educational programs to inspire, train, and coach a new generation of entrepreneurs, the Center provides numerous networking opportunities. Examples include:
- "The MIT Sloan BioInnovations Conference," also known as “the Celebration of Biotechnology in Kendall Square,” draws more than 850 people, and connects founders, CEOs, board members, students, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists. With MIT’s location in the center of an intensive biotechnology cluster, including the MIT-related Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Broad Institute, the program draws executives to Cambridge from around the globe.
- A reception held each semester to honor past and present CEOs of Entrepreneurship Lab (E-Lab) companies, who have hosted student teams from E-Lab classes. Current students are given a prominent role at this event to promote summer internships and permanent jobs with leaders of high-tech companies and with their many venture capital investors, who regularly attend the reception.
- The spring “E-Lab Bash” features the Adolf F. Monosson (MIT ’48) Prize for Entrepreneurship Mentoring. This award recognizes a person or group that has been outstanding in nurturing and assisting young entrepreneurs.
- A black-tie networking event in London, England, in conjunction with University of Cambridge, which draws 500 people and presents an exceptional opportunity to forge entrepreneurial ties. Attendees include the student leadership of the MIT $100K Business Plan Competition and the year’s winning $100K team.
Organizations and Centers
Numerous research centers and organizations throughout MIT and MIT Sloan support and contribute to entrepreneurship and the growth of new business ventures. Some examples include:
- The Martin (1958) Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship provides content, context, and contacts to help train and support entrepreneurs to design and launch successful new ventures based on innovative technologies.
- The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation helps move innovative concepts along the path to commercialization.
- The MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) matches promising business plans and budding entrepreneurs with volunteer mentors, who assist students, staff, faculty, and alumni to boost the chances of their entrepreneurial success.
- The MIT Enterprise Forum, with chapters worldwide, builds connections to technology entrepreneurs and to the communities in which they reside.
- The MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship provides fellowships that result in innovative businesses, promoting sustainable economic growth in developing countries.
- The Lemelson-MIT Program encourages tomorrow's inventors through outreach programs. The cornerstone of the program is the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the world's largest, single cash prize for invention.
- The MIT Technology Licensing Office manages the patenting, licensing, trademarking and copyrighting of intellectual property developed at MIT, the Lincoln Laboratory, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and serves as an educational resource on intellectual property and licensing matters for the entire MIT community.
- The Office of Corporate Relations' Industrial Liaison Program promotes MIT and industry collaboration, encouraging the flow of knowledge and resources between the Institute and innovation-driven companies for their mutual benefit.
- The MIT Sloan Center for Digital Business, a research partner with industry, provides leadership for faculty, students, and sponsors interested in Internet-enabled business.
- The Center for Innovation in Product Development is a joint effort between MIT's School of Engineering and MIT Sloan to connect the best ideas of academia with the extensive experience of industry. Team members research the process of product development from engineering concept through product design to market delivery.
- The Center for Biomedical Innovation helps form strategic partnerships among corporations, government agencies, and academia to design and conduct research projects, develop new curricula, and create new implementation processes to enhance the delivery of innovative therapeutics and devices. The Center is a collaborative effort of the MIT Schools of Engineering, Management, and Science, along with the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
- Formerly known as the Technology Capital Network at MIT, the Capital Network is a not-for-profit service and educational organization that brings entrepreneurs and early-stage investors together for the purposes of raising capital, networking, and education.
Beyond MIT’s immediate influence on the creation of new firms, 85 percent of alumni entrepreneurs reported that their association with MIT enhanced their credibility with suppliers and customers, and 51 percent stated that it helped them in acquiring funding.
“It was really rewarding that they wanted to know what we thought. We left there being fairly certain that they will do some of the things that we suggested.”
“Because of the diversity of our backgrounds, when we hit the ground in Tanzania it almost was a natural play where different people assume different roles.”
“I love being in a place that is such a nexus of people and ideas — people coming to learn something new and to define themselves. Being a part of that process is a real honor and a real gift.”
“The conditions in the neighborhoods we were visiting were different than what we realized before getting there. Beyond that, what was surprising was that there weren’t surprises!”
“The concept behind enterprise architecture is that you have all these machines, you have all these business processes, you have all these people doing things, how do you make sure they all come together and achieve business objectives that make you more competitive.”
"The relationships that we forged helped us to turn out a better project. We were able to test our hypotheses with the people that we spoke with every single day. And really, I think the friendships that you develop really propel the work that you’re doing."
“You could talk about watershed management and conservation of energy all you want. But until you put numbers to it and financial analysis to it, you’re not going to get much done. I came to business school to speak that language, speak with people in terms of numbers, financial numbers so that I can get projects done.”
“One of the reasons I came to Sloan was because I wanted to be at a top MBA institution worldwide. But I also wanted access to working with the latest innovations and the highest technology that was coming out of the MIT labs.”
“At MIT Sloan you have a lot of opportunities to explore entrepreneurship. Especially in a place like Kampala where you have a lot of development, entrepreneurship can be very exciting.”
“We’re very interdisciplinary. Among the faculty in the group are an economist, a political scientist, a sociologist, and an industrial relations specialist. We’ve always made a big effort to be open to a variety of perspectives, but also to go beyond being open to them, to want to bring them in, because it makes for a richer environment.”
“We are very much an action-learning environment. The way to learn leadership is not only through reading cases, not only through learning theory — in fact we don’t want people to regurgitate the theory. We want people to take theory and to live it, use it.”
“The assistant to the CEO was like our host mom while we were there. She arranged our housing for us, she took us out to her friend’s game farm, and we got driven around in 4x4s. She was just wonderful to meet, and we developed a personal as well as professional relationship with her.”
“I knew about American business, but not enough about what’s really become a global economy. … You can read about it all you want, but there’s no substitute for being there and seeing the context and seeing how completely different these [other countries] are.”
“These companies are really excited to work with MIT students.They reach out to the community to set up these projects and are great to work with. They give us access to all their resources and are very open to us.”
“There is a sense of research having validity and being important regardless of the area of inquiry.”