Entrepreneurship and Innovation

MIT’s preeminence in innovation is rooted in its founding. As one of the first land-grant colleges, the Institute was designed to deliver a practical education rather than to focus on the classical education that was provided by many private universities of that era. This emphasis on practice is infused into the entrepreneurship curriculum and programming, which emphasizes learning by doing. Over the course of the 2018–2019 academic year, more than 85 entrepreneurship courses were offered, as well as not-for-credit boot camps during the Independent Activities Period and the MIT delta v accelerator program in the summer.

There are more than 200 resources dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation at MIT. These are just a few:

  • The MIT Innovation Initiative combines opportunities for hands-on innovation and entrepreneurship education, building a dynamic innovation infrastructure across the campus.
  • The MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund Program provides selected teams of MIT student innovators up to $25,000 in seed funding, tailored educational opportunities, advising and mentoring, and access to materials and makerspace resources.
  • The Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program promotes leadership and communications skills among undergraduate engineers.
  • The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation funds innovative faculty research and supports faculty in technology commercialization.
  • designX is an entrepreneurial accelerator for endeavors from the School of Architecture and Planning that aims to transform cities and the built environment.
  • The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship supports MIT students creating ventures focused on solving challenges in developing economies.
  • The Lemelson-MIT Program promotes invention at MIT, in particular among students, through the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition.
  • The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship supports students with an entrepreneurship curriculum, programming, coaching and mentoring from entrepreneurs in residence, and connections to the MIT and broader entrepreneurial communities.
  • MIT D-Lab works with people around the world to develop and advance collaborative approaches and practical solutions to global poverty challenges through interdisciplinary courses, research in collaboration with global partners, technology development, and community initiatives.
  • MIT IDEAS Global Challenge is an annual, campus-wide social innovation competition run by the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center. The program enables students to work closely with community partners to tackle quality-of-life issues for people around the world.
  • The MIT Startup Exchange is a web community for the MIT innovation ecosystem composed of MIT Industrial Liaison Program members, MIT-connected startups, and employees and alumni with active startup engagements.
  • The Technology Licensing Office assists MIT inventors in protecting their technology and in licensing that technology to startups and existing companies.
  • The Venture Mentoring Service matches student, faculty, staff, and alumni entrepreneurs with talented mentors.

MIT also has a wealth of student clubs and initiatives involved in entrepreneurship or innovation, among them the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, the MIT Clean Energy Prize, and conferences such as Hacking Arts and Hacking Medicine.

MIT’s educational efforts in entrepreneurship and innovation have an impressive impact at local, regional, and global levels. A 2015 study (PDF) reported that 30,000 companies founded by MIT alumni were active as of 2014, employing 4.6 million people and producing annual revenues of $1.9 trillion, equivalent to the world’s 10th largest economy. MIT alumni form hundreds of new companies each year, and approximately 40% of MIT founders are serial entrepreneurs, starting multiple companies. Twenty-three percent of MIT alumni’s new firms are founded outside the United States.