Rethinking Innovation at MIT

Whenever there is talk of innovative universities, it’s not too long before you hear mention of MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  MIT is one of the first universities to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship as a core mission, and, for the most part, they started in this business as a global leader and remain at or near the top today.  But, even mighty MIT cannot sit on its laurels, and, for the past year, the university has been involved in a major rethinking of its innovation initiatives and policies.

The preliminary fruits of this work were released late last week in a report entitled, “The MIT Innovation Initiative:  Sustaining and Extending a Legacy of Innovation.”  The report frankly notes that much current MIT programming dates back to old models of innovation, i.e. the proverbial vision of the scientist toiling alone in the lab.  Today, innovation is “hybridized,” emanating from across multiple disciplines, requiring skills  and talents in diverse areas, and the capacity to access to key physical, virtual, and computational resources.

The preliminary report offers a detailed review of current MIT programs and initiatives and proposes a host of university-led new directions.  These include:

  • A major expansion of infrastructure, with a focus on new scale-up facilities and funds and dedicated innovation spaces located around MIT’s campus.
  • Creation of vibrant, small-scale innovation communities that are global in scope and move MIT’s innovation activities off campus and around the globe.
  • Creation of a new Laboratory for Innovation Science and Policy to help foster new thinking and new directions in innovation policy.

This report is the first of series of efforts to rethink MIT’s innovation footprint.   This effort should send a strong message throughout higher education circles:  if MIT is rethinking how it does innovation, maybe you should consider the same!

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