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REAP: A global program that addresses the intricacies of entrepreneurship

What makes regions more or less successful when it comes to entrepreneurship? What about Kendall Square has made the area such a powerful entrepreneurial hotspot?  These questions and others like them are considered during the new MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), currently offered as a joint program between MIT Sloan Executive Education and the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

Created in part to address the concerns of organizations that want to emulate the entrepreneurial spirit encompassed by MIT and the surrounding area, REAP is a multi-year program designed to help regions promote economic development and job creation by teaching participants how to implement a more robust, innovation-based entrepreneurial ecosystem. For example, during the REAP 2012–2013 pilot program, cross-functional teams from Hangzhou (China), Finland, New Zealand, Veracruz (Mexico), Scotland, Andalucia (Spain), and Turkey conducted an action project focused on assessing the current state of entrepreneurship in their regions.

About the REAP Program

REAP evolved in part due to research by MIT Sloan Professor Edward Roberts who studied MIT alumni and discovered they had created over 25,000 companies that generated about $2 trillion worth of revenue. Through the REAP program, Roberts said MIT now hopes to “help institutions worldwide emulate the path of impact so we can generate many more university-based, alumni-based entrepreneurial start ups that produce more jobs and revenue worldwide.”

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer William Aulet—who teaches in the REAP program along with MIT Sloan Professor Fiona Murray and Faculty Director Scott Stern—said there has been a lot of linear thinking around entrepreneurship, but added that it is a complicated problem that requires a systems view, patience, and intellect, as well as a data driven approach.

As part of the REAP program, participants attend two-and-a-half day educational workshops twice a year for at least two years. During these workshops, they also engage in virtual mentoring and use online tools to share lessons learned. On site, participants are exposed to the theory and practice of developing regional clusters of innovation-based entrepreneurship. In addition, they are able to collaborate and learn across different stakeholder groups, break down traditional boundaries, and focus on a common goal of regional economic development.

In order to qualify for the REAP program, each participating region has to assemble a cross-functional team of five to seven members who represent five major stakeholders: economic development/government, entrepreneurs, risk capital, large companies, and universities.

For those who want to accelerate their innovation-based entrepreneurial systems, REAP is a great place to start.

Faculty

Bill Aulet is a Senior Lecturer and Managing Director in the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is the Faculty Director of the Entrepreneurship Development Program at MIT Sloan.

Fiona Murray is the David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology and an Associate Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at MIT Sloan. She is the Faculty Director in the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. In addition to REAP, she teaches in the Entrepreneurship Development Program at MIT Sloan.

Edward Roberts is the David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology, and the founder and Chair of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Scott Stern is the School of Management Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management Group at MIT Sloan.