The maker culture was our first invention, and it remains the foundation of our innovation ecosystem. MIT’s other defining trait: a powerful connection to industry that has long fueled the translation of ideas to real-world impact. But the paths to the marketplace are evolving. Increasingly, ideas are brought to life by new ventures, from Kendall Square startups to global nonprofits. MIT is committed to fortifying this changed innovation landscape and developing new ways to shorten the route from inspiration to reality. We are equipping our students with the knowledge they need to bring their ideas to the world, strengthening our maker facilities, and infusing innovation into the art of innovation itself.
Education and Practice
The MIT Innovation Initiative works with all five MIT schools to strengthen the educational pathways and networks for students, alumni, and partners to move ideas from conception to impact. In MIT’s tradition of "mens et manus," we do so by combining hands-on, global opportunities for building expertise in the innovation process with insights developed from the evidence-based science of innovation.
The Translational Fellows Program empowers postdocs to become the campus-wide champions of commercialization by granting them a day a week to focus on commercialization of their research. The goal of the program is to accelerate the transfer of research-derived technologies into marketable products.
Communities and Infrastructure
Forty years ago, the abandoned factory buildings in MIT’s backyard evoked the area’s bygone manufacturing era. Bit by bit, MIT faculty and alumni have created what is now called “the most innovative square mile on the planet,” a neighborhood teeming with the Cambridge/Boston area’s world-class concentration of scientific and engineering talent.
“MIT is in the midst of revamping the way we think about maker spaces and how we run them,” says Martin Culpepper SM ’97, PhD ’00, professor of mechanical engineering, MIT’s first “maker czar,” and director of Project Manus, an Institute-wide program to create a gold standard for next-generation maker systems.
MIT’s entrepreneurial network thrives on connections around the world, and it is growing even more robust with the Hong Kong Innovation Node. The Node connects the MIT community with unique resources—including local alumni, entrepreneurs, and advanced manufacturing capabilities—in Hong Kong and the neighboring Pearl River Delta.
The MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) is a global initiative designed to help regions around the world accelerate their economic growth and job creation through innovation-driven entrepreneurship.
Research and Policy
Designed to foster innovation and accelerate advanced manufacturing in the US, new public-private consortiums are working towards creating a sustainable manufacturing innovation ecosystem. Known as National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs), each partnership has a unique manufacturing technology focus. Notably, MIT convened the newest of these MIIs, named the Advanced Functional Fibers of America Institute.
GOV/LAB is focused on innovations in citizen engagement and government responsiveness. Led by political scientist Lily Tsai, MIT GOV/LAB collaborates with social enterprises, funders, and governments to build and test theories about programs and technologies that enable governments to be more accountable to citizens.