In late January 2014, the Boston Globe ran a feature in its business section on MIT’s role in local entrepreneurship. In “MIT Retools to Aid Students in Startups,” Boston Globe reporter Michael Farrell asks “Is it possible MIT is feeling inadequate—insecure, even?” He points out that MIT is “facing increasing competition from around the corner and across the country,” citing Harvard University and Stanford University. The article goes on to detail a campus-wide initiative, led by MIT President Rafael Reif, to “make the school the unquestioned leader of technological innovation and entrepreneurship in the 21st century.”
It’s important to first point out that MIT is world renowned for its legacy of entrepreneurship. According to a Kauffman Foundation report, more than 25,000 active companies founded by MIT alumni have generated about 3.3 million jobs and $2 trillion in annual revenues. If they formed a nation, these companies would constitute the world’s 11th largest economy. US News & World Report also recently ranked MIT #3 in its college rankings for entrepreneurship.
The recent Globe article focuses entirely on what MIT and other competing universities are doing to support student startups. And it reveals a common bias—that entrepreneurs are under the age of 40 and right out of school. It bypasses the notion that entrepreneurs can be older, experienced technologists and business people.
It’s important to know that MIT has programs for entrepreneurs in all stages of their careers. MIT Sloan Executive Education’s Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) is designed for entrepreneurs, corporate venturing executives, and others involved in entrepreneurial environments. The program helps participants develop ideas into successful businesses and learn how to increase entrepreneurial opportunities in their established corporations, institutions, and regions.
The program combines lectures by senior MIT faculty, visits to Cambridge-area high-tech startups, and live case studies with successful entrepreneurs. The experience exposes participants to the content, context, and contacts necessary to design and launch successful new intrapreneurial or entrepreneurial ventures based on innovative technologies.
MIT offers a range of options for entrepreneurs—for existing students, recent graduates and seasoned executives alike. As Boston Magazine noted in “How MIT Became the Most Important University in the World,” “In many ways, the I-Lab (at Harvard) is actually a derivative enterprise, clearly based on the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, which since 1990 has been nurturing tech entrepreneurs and churning out an astonishing number of startups.” In the article, EDP Faculty Director Bill Aulet commented, “We’ve been doing entrepreneurship for a long time, and now Harvard is finally coming over to our way. But MIT has never been better. This is our time.”
Bill Aulet is a Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan and the Managing Director of The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. He teaches in the Entrepreneurship Development Program and the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) at MIT Sloan Executive Education. He is the author of the recently published Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup.