"The Financial Engineering Proseminar is set up as a practicum, where we split up into groups and do a project for a real company. The project was challenging on multiple levels."
Innovation Teams, or I-Teams — are a joint product of MIT Sloan and the MIT School of Engineering — and bring together creative and motivated science, engineering, and management students to learn the theory and practice of commercializing science. Students put their knowledge into practice in a semester-long project that assesses the commercial feasibility of scientific breakthroughs. Most I-Team projects are based on ideas at the proof-of-concept stage in MIT laboratories. Some will come to market.
I-Teams are one of MIT’s signature Action Learning programs, reflecting MIT’s "Mens et Manus" motto. The class project — together with lectures, dynamic discussions, and guest lecturers — is designed to give students the skills needed for the commercial analysis of novel scientific ideas. Lectures focus on the tools required for effective commercialization, from analysis of promising early-stage scientific ideas through commercialization strategies and the assessment of critical milestones.
I-Team Projects put these new skills into practice. In teams of four to six, students work closely with the Project Lead (PL) — typically an MIT faculty member — and other members of the project lab. Teams also have an advisor from the local entrepreneurial community to provide guidance and contacts.
Over the semester, teams build a thorough analysis of the commercial potential as well as the commercial risks of the idea, and propose a set of milestones for future development.
In some cases, students on I-Team projects continue to work with the Project Lead to shape commercialization even after the class ends. Several have joined with their PL or students in the lab to compete in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. Companies created from I-Teams include Lantos Technologies, Myomo neurorobotic medical devices, and several ongoing “proto startups.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
"After we gave our recommendations, the great part was that the very next day the CEO was in the boardroom implementing them with his top vice presidents."
“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.”
“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.”
“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 India Lab] program is one of the reasons I came to Sloan. ... The hands-on learning that MIT offers was a huge differentiator.”
“I can honestly say that when I was planning on coming to business school I never thought that witnessing the birth of a child would be included in the education. It was definitely an experience.”
“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.”
“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.”
“If you’re smart and energetic, you can be very successful at MIT Sloan.”