Fourteen teams will participate in this year’s MIT Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator (MIT GFSA), an international entrepreneurship program that provides student entrepreneurs with the skills and resources needed to launch successful startups. The program, held from June to September 2013 and hosted at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, will bring together eight MIT student teams and six teams from universities in Canada, China, Germany, Russia, Scotland and Turkey.
The MIT GFSA will provide participating student teams with up to $20,000 in grants for meeting customized milestones, as well as individual stipends, workspace and personalized instruction and guidance. The program culminates in a Demo Day to be held at MIT on Sept. 7, 2013.
"We have combined the best of university and external programs to create a top-tier initiative that is uniquely suited to MIT’s mission of advancing knowledge and educating students," said Bill Aulet, the managing director of the Martin Trust Center. "The addition of six teams from universities around the world gives our students a unique opportunity to broaden their understanding of global entrepreneurship and helps disseminate MIT’s experience and leading-edge research in entrepreneurship."
The MIT GFSA is an expansion of the MIT Founders’ Skills Accelerator, a pilot program that hosted several MIT student teams during the summer of 2012. It is a natural progression from the 40-plus courses and numerous startup competitions and entrepreneurial programs offered at MIT. The MIT GFSA will solidify students’ entrepreneurship skills and increase their effectiveness at creating new innovation-based ventures to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The eight MIT teams participating in the program (29 total team members, of which 24 are MIT students — including 10 undergraduates, 10 master’s candidates and four doctoral candidates) are:
- 3dim is bringing gestural input technology to smartphones, tablets and smart glasses at very low power, size and cost. The four-person team includes three MIT doctoral candidates — two from the Media Lab and one from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).
- AvaTech is changing the game in avalanche safety with a device that helps backcountry skiers and mountaineers gain information about the snowpack and avoid fatal avalanches. The four-person team includes one MIT undergraduate from the Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE), one MIT master’s candidate from MechE, and two MBA candidates from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
- BioTower is on a mission to distribute agriculture by allowing people to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in their homes. The two-person team includes two MIT undergraduates, one from MechE and one from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
- glutenTech is developing an on-the-go gluten detection device for allergy sufferers. The two-person team includes one MBA candidate from MIT Sloan.
- lallitara creates one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly products by upcycling reclaimed materials sourced from around the world. The three-person team includes two MBA candidates from MIT Sloan.
- NarwhalEdu is combining online curricula with hands-on engineering projects, fully kitted, to help high school and college students discover the creativity and coolness of engineering. The four-person team includes three MIT undergraduates from MechE.
- NVprints sells patent-pending automation technology for 3-D printers enabling 3-D printer owners to rent access to customers through a mobile marketplace. The five-person team includes four MIT undergraduates — three from MechE and one from EECS.
- PLASTABLE is a data aggregation service targeted at the plastics industry, helping engineers and designers locate advanced material specifications for various polymers. The five-person team includes one MIT doctoral candidate from EECS and four MBA candidates from MIT Sloan.
The six teams from universities around the world that will join the MIT teams are:
- Uniiv, from McGill University (Canada), which helps prospective students select the university that is best for them by leveraging its massive, user-generated database.
- SIMU/MyFantastic, from Zhejiang University (China), which is creating an online platform for idea and design creation of cultural artifacts, the most popular of which are manufactured and sold through online and offline marketplaces.
- task36, representing TU Berlin (Germany), is creating a real-time task management solution using a proprietary process algorithm.
- ImSlide, representing the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology or Skoltech (Russia), is creating an automated system to conduct morphological analysis and immunophenotyping of leukocytes for early detection of leukemia and other blood disorders.
- Project SWAP, from the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University (Scotland), is developing an affordable 3-D printer for developing countries.
- SOMATECH, from Sabanci University (Turkey), provides technologies and solutions for social media analysis; it offers tools for customization of searched content and automatic summarization and sentiment analysis of the collected data, using data mining, machine learning techniques and semantic web infrastructure.
The MIT GFSA is an initiative of all five MIT schools in collaboration with the MIT Skoltech Initiative. Students will have access to resources from across the Institute, including the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, the MIT Technology Licensing Office, the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program, the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, the SUTD-MIT International Design Centre, and other MIT entrepreneurship resources as appropriate.
The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, founded in 1990, provides the knowledge, support and connections needed for MIT students to become entrepreneurs.