MIT REAP: 10 Years and Over 750 Alumni Later

In the past decade, the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) has helped communities around the world strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship in their region through a novel approach based on leading MIT research.

The cohorts that have gone through this program have achieved real impact in their economies and innovation ecosystems, from winning a bid for $300 million in funding for a regional ocean supercluster (Nova Scotia, Cohort 4) to facilitating urgently needed technical innovation in the Appalachian region(Kentucky, Cohort 6) to spearheading policy such as the Nigeria Startup Bill, which recently became an act that aims to ensure an ecosystem where entrepreneurship and tech startups can thrive (Abuja, Cohort 7). All the while, through the delivery and impact of the program, MIT Sloan faculty have honed their understanding of how to create economic and social impact through accelerating innovation ecosystems.

A two-year engagement with MIT Sloan, MIT REAP educates and empowers participating regions by translating research into practical frameworks, convening multi-stakeholder teams focused on innovation-driven entrepreneurship, and working with these regional leaders through its ActionLearning approach to ecosystem acceleration. The program coaches its global teams in designing and executing strategic initiatives that move the needle on regions’ innovation and entrepreneurship, job creation, and social progress. As of this writing, the program has worked with more than 70 regions worldwide and can count over 750 alumni.

By the Numbers

  • 10

    Years of MIT REAP

  • 70+

    Regions Worldwide Helped by MIT REAP

  • 750+

    MIT REAP Alumni

Credit: Susan Campbell / Shutterstock

“In most parts of the world, you’ll find these clusters of expertise,” Michael Cusumano (Deputy Dean; Sloan Management Review Distinguished Professor of Management; Professor, Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management) explained in a September 2022 presentation. “What is that area? Can we connect it to entrepreneurship? What are the new areas that need to be developed? We try to understand that.” The ultimate work of the two-year MIT REAP process is to empower a region to“build more permanent organizations that will continue beyond [their time in MIT] REAP.”

From this work, MIT Sloan faculty have seen surprising entrepreneurial impacts in the last several years despite economic volatility; the time is right to conduct this work, in other words. “The idea that the pandemic has kind of restarted America’s startup engine is a real thing,” Scott Stern (David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology; Professor, Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management; Co-founder, MIT REAP) told The New York Times in 2021. “Sometimes you need to turn off the car in order to turn it back on.”

“No one is in charge of entrepreneurship...instead, multiple stakeholders are required to tackle big problems and enable the success of novel solutions—across business, healthcare, education, and more,” Stern added in a May 2022 press release.“After delivering the program for 10 years to more than 70 global teams, we know this regional approach works.”

The evolution of the bespoke MIT REAP Focus program, in addition to the flagship Global program, is a testament to these ongoing efforts—with a single region receiving targeted strategic guidance for accelerating its innovation and entrepreneurship. Thus far, three regions have participated in customized cohorts of MIT REAP Focus: the United Kingdom, Nova Scotia, and Mexico.

Alumni of the program join the MIT REAP Global Network (RGN), a platform for not only continuing their engagement with MIT and accessing Institute resources but also for cross-collaborating with other MIT REAP cohorts and teams. The program will mark its first 10 years by hosting a series of regional reunions, culminating in an Alumni Summit for all cohorts and the public to formally engage in person, to be held on campus in August 2023. The summit will explore alumni impact stories, MIT REAP faculty’s emerging research, and other leading topics in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Simultaneously, MIT REAP will launch an online platform to house data from its cohorts, associated faculty research, case studies, and impact stories. It will be the product of a decade’s worth of work, countless partnerships with stakeholders, and stories of regional success—with the insights available for others to see, take inspiration from, and emulate.

Learn more about MIT REAP