"The fact that people like me can come to MIT Sloan and add value, opens up people's minds. It gets them out of their comfort zone, out of their box."
Channeling MIT innovation to benefit the world
The Innovation Teams (I-Teams) course brings together students from MIT Sloan and the MIT School of Engineering for a semester-long project, assessing the commercial feasibility of novel MIT technologies. Lectures focus on building the tools and insights necessary for students to perform commercial due diligence on promising early-stage inventions. Student teams are then matched with project ideas that are at the proof-of-concept stage in MIT Laboratories. The I-Teams then apply classroom theory to deliver a full go-to-market analysis as part of their final report and presentation to their project partner’s principal investigator and research team.
The I-Teams Process
Throughout their project, each team has access to faculty, business mentors, practitioners, and other students. Before the midterm, students develop a short presentation outlining the key performance indicators' of the technology and how they compare to competitive alternatives in a range of applications. In the final report, the full go-to-market analysis prepared by the students includes the technology’s two most promising applications with key technical requirements, both market and competitive analyses, and recommendations for the most effective commercialization strategy.
The I-Teams course is one of MIT’s signature Action Learning classes. By combining business analysis with technical insights, students deepen their understanding of science commercialization and develop skills that will enable them to effectively approach the commercialization of inventions throughout their careers.
In some cases, students on I-Teams projects continue to work with their project partner’s principal investigator to shape commercialization beyond the conceptual stage. Several student teams have joined with the principal investigator’s and/or other I-Teams students to compete in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. Companies created from the I-Teams course have included Lantos Technologies, Myomo (neuro-robotic™ medical devices), and several ongoing “proto startups.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“[The India Lab] program is one of the reasons I came to Sloan. ... The hands-on learning that MIT offers was a huge differentiator.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“For 35 years, we’ve been studying how companies get value from information. … We try to help organizations take a more holistic view of what they are trying to do.”
"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."
“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.”
“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.”
“By training tomorrow’s leaders to manage the risks of the financial system effectively and ethically, we’ll have a fighting chance of surviving even the largest crises.”