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MIT REAP helps London scale its innovation ecosystem

Contributed by MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer, Dr. Phil Budden.

MIT's Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) is fostering a worldwide innovation and entrepreneurship movement helping regional ecosystems. The latest region to take its REAP learnings to the next level is Team London, which is one of the regions in REAP's Cohort Two (essentially, the second round) which comes to a close this June 2016.

REAP is MIT's unique, two-year global Executive Education initiative designed to help regions around the world, with an average of eight teams per Cohort, to accelerate economic growth and job creation through "innovation-driven entrepreneurship" (IDE).  Each team has to include representatives of the five key stakeholders in an "innovation ecosystem," (see below) and must work together--with the help of MIT faculty and their research--to analyze their region’s strengths, determine a strategy based on their regional comparative advantage, and then implement a first step to achieving that strategy. Teams attend four workshops over the two-year program and must collectively achieve a great deal in the action phases before and after the workshops.

Innovation model

Team London's stakeholders, after participating in three REAP workshops (2014-2015), determined that their region produces a lot of start-ups but not enough of these scale to their full potential. This insight confirmed that efforts by a variety of stakeholders--including the UK Government of Prime Minister David Cameron--had successfully accelerated the innovation-driven enterprises in their ecosystem, which early insights had highlighted. With "London calling," MIT responded with its insights from Kendall Square, and then a place for London--following the visit of the British Prime Minister to MIT--in its second REAP cohort. (See "London's tech hub looks to capture 'MIT magic'")

Drawing on MIT REAP, Team London's conclusion was that it needed a program to help the many start-ups to scale up: the end result is the Growth Builder business growth program, which launched and opened for applications on February 3, 2016.  It is designed by entrepreneurs, supported by government, and funded by corporate and university partners including RBS, UCL and BT. The effort helps innovation-driven entrepreneurs running high-growth start-ups from across the UK to collaborate with experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders; to have unrivaled access to key stakeholders across government, universities, corporations, and risk-capital investors; and to experience an adaptive, content-rich program tailored to support and apply learnings to their businesses. This helps them transition from a founder working in the business to a leader working on the business. 

Growth Builder officially launched in February, and applications for its first round of slots are open until mid-March 2016.  The sold-out launch event brought together all the stakeholders of Team London at the iconic BT Tower. I, along with MIT colleague Fiona Murray, Associate Dean for Innovation and Co-Director of the MIT Innovation Initiative, had the honor and privilege to see Team London at this special time in its REAP journey, and I was proud to congratulate them on their individual and collective successes.

REAP London

REAP Team London:  Front row from L to R: San Vanderslott, UCL - Abe Tilling, RBS - Marina Wegorek, RBS - Freddie Talberg, PIE Mapping - Paola Cuneo, UKTI - Laura Parker, RBS - Jenny Tooth, UKBAA - Fiona Murray, MIT - Susie Kitchens, FCO - Tim Barnes, Loughborough University London.  Back row: Mike Caine, Loughborough University London - Owen Lawrence, NatWest, - Ben Fletcher, Fast Growth Forum - Phil Budden, MIT - Will Pryke, BT - Matthew Smith, RBS.  Photo courtesy of

I am very much looking forward to welcoming Team London to MIT for their fourth (and final) workshop in early June 2016, to hear how the first companies are benefitting from the Growth Builder experience, and to seeing them graduate to REAP alums on our virtual global innovation network (GIN).  And on behalf of all the REAP Faculty and staff, I can confirm that we continue to follow the successes of all our REAP teams (from Cohorts One, Two, and Three): we are extremely proud of their collective accomplishments.

Dr. Phil Budden is a Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan. He served for many years as Britain's Consul General to New England, and now teaches about innovation ecosystems, especially the role of governments and corporates. Besides REAP, he also teaches in a companion class Regional Entrepreneurship-Acceleration Lab, in the Advanced Management Program (AMP) and in a variety of MIT and global settings for senior executives.

Fiona Murray is Associate Dean for Innovation at MIT Sloan and the Co-Director of the MIT Innovation Initiative. She is also the Faculty Director of the Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and a member of the UK Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology (CST). Fiona teaches in the Advanced Management Program, Entrepreneurship Development Program, and the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) for MIT Sloan Executive Education.


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