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.

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.

Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship

For society to flourish new ideas need to spread. Entrepreneurs hold the key to unleashing the spark of innovation that will change the world. The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship is the hub for student entrepreneurship at MIT providing the expertise, support, and connections MIT students need to become effective entrepreneurs. The Trust Center seeks to arm students with the entrepreneurial skillset, mindset, and spirit that will allow them to thrive in a world of chaos and uncertainty.

Led by Managing Director Bill Aulet, the Martin Trust Center provides the tools and capabilities that encourage MIT students to imagine and realize 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. One example is delta v, the premier student venture accelerator providing a capstone educational opportunity for MIT student entrepreneurs that prepares them to hit escape velocity and launch into the real world.

Beyond MIT’s enrolled students, the Martin Trust Center has applied entrepreneurship principles around the world to audiences with different backgrounds. MIT’s week-long Entrepreneurship Development Program brings leading entrepreneurs, corporations and regional leaders to MIT to learn how to create innovation and entrepreneurship in businesses around the world.

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.

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 Michael Cima 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. Now it is making this world-class innovation education available to all MIT Students ensuring all students can participate in formal and practical innovation activities. The Innovation Initiative removes the barriers of innovation and is focused on enabling diversity in entrepreneurship.

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 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.

Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship at MIT

Innovation-driven entrepreneurship is critical to advancing economic and social progress in the developing 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 team—lead by Executive Director Dina Sherif—is committed to creating academic and experiential programming to empower a generation of change agents in the developing world who, through their principled entrepreneurial leadership, will overcome the world’s greatest challenges and drive global prosperity. 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, and increase productivity.

MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program

The MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) sees a path for economic and social progress through innovation and entrepreneurship. MIT REAP brings the Institute’s expertise in leading innovation-driven entrepreneurship and innovation science to communities worldwide through a novel curricular approach. Focused on bringing stakeholders together each MIT REAP team works with MIT faculty over a twoyear period. Each team includes individuals from government, risk capital, academia, entrepreneurship, and industry all from a specific region.

MIT faculty members help a cohort of 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 strategy, and begin implementation. The cohort benefits from the each of the team’s 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 also will continue to cultivate a global community of regions and individuals interested in ecosystem development. MIT 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 regions’ challenges and opportunities.

The Initiative on the Digital Economy

How will self-driving cars and other forms of artificial intelligence transform the way we live and work? How do new technologies and social media impact productivity, consumer demand, political mobilization, and public health? How can we re-skill people to make sure rapid digital transformation leaves no one behind?  Digital technologies advance quickly, yet organizations and skills tend to move at a slower pace. In the coming decades, the divide between rapidly evolving technology and the slower pace of human development will grow wider as exponential improvements in artificial intelligence, robotics, networks, analytics, and digitization affect more and more of the economy and society.  Led by MIT Sloan’s Sinan Aral, the IDE’s team of visionary, internationally recognized researchers explores how people and businesses will work, interact, and prosper in an era of profound digital transformation.

The IDE conducts groundbreaking research–often in partnership with business, government, and other organizations–in four areas—productivity, employment, and inequality; new digital business models; big data and human AI; and social analytics and digital experimentation. No other initiative in the world is exploring the trends and impact of the digital economy with the same determination, depth, focus, and perspective as the IDE. Its charter is to understand, inform, and pragmatically solve real-world challenges based on facts and causality derived from rigorous academic research. This charter aims to enable corporations, governments, and policymakers to rely on the IDE for insights, best practices, and solutions.

Building on this research, the IDE convenes academic and industry-specific activities and events to bring thought leaders together to exchange ideas, learn, and create solutions with a direct impact on business and expose our students to multiple approaches to both the challenges and the opportunities presented by the digital economy.

The digital economy poses tremendous challenges and opportunities that will impact us all. With a focus on real-world, real-time solutions and the foundational belief that technological transformation is creating new opportunities for people and businesses to thrive, The IDE represents MIT at its best, applying its research and insights to chart a course for a thriving society that is focused on economic inclusion.