MIT’s journey through innovation-driven entrepreneurship education is about to take a turn Down Under. The next international MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, scheduled for March 26-31, 2017, takes place at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, widely considered to be Australia’s global innovation hub. Applications are now open.
The intensive, week-long new ventures leadership program connects entrepreneurs across the globe to the MIT entrepreneurship ecosystem. Bootcampers are pushed to their limits. In just five days, they experience all the highs and lows of starting a company, and then pitch their idea to seasoned entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists.
A global experience
The bootcamp brings together a network of innovators from around the world, and the last session reflected this global diversity with participants from over 35 different countries. One participant was Angela Scott, COO of TC BioPharm in Edinburgh, U.K.
Scott, who has over 35 years of biotechnology experience and was on the team that cloned Dolly the sheep in 1992, recently founded a new venture focused on an innovative means of cancer therapy. She attended the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in August, right around the time her business began facing challenges related to scaling internationally — a common challenge for many growing organizations.
“The bootcamp made me realize that good ideas are not enough — robust commercial execution and delivery on business objectives is what transforms great ideas into blockbusters,” she says. “I’m a very hands-on, can-do person. The program taught me how to think more strategically, enabling me to make key decisions in a more focused and pragmatic manner, and helping me see how to take the company from strength to strength. That’s allowing us to bring improved quality of life to patients in a wider international market.”
What you learn is up to you
Each MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp participant arrives with a unique set of goals. Some focus on acquiring specific entrepreneurial tools and techniques. Some seek out cofounders for a new venture. Others are simply looking for inspiration. In many ways, the lessons learned depend on the individual. Mark Ridley’s experience provides one such example.
Ridley was director of technology at reed.co.uk, the United Kingdom’s top jobs website. He spent more than 15 years building up the company’s capabilities and services — then quit to go out on his own as a tech entrepreneur. At first, he wasn’t sure the bootcamp would be right for him. But with a friend’s encouragement, Ridley decided to apply and also attended the August 2016 bootcamp.
“Having made the decision to leave the job I loved in order to broaden my experience, it seemed like the bravest thing I could do,” he recalls. “The bootcamp sounded unlike anything I had experienced and was well outside my comfort zone. It filled me with terror — in part because I had a fear of failure. But I recognized that this was exactly the challenge and discomfort I needed to gain a fresh perspective and drive myself to get the most out of life.”
Turns out, the decision to overcome that fear and face the bootcamp challenge was a good one. Says Ridley: “The bootcamp is life changing. Every serious decision I’ve made since has carried the learnings I took from the bootcamp experience. In part from the lecturers, but also from my fellow alumni and most importantly the amazing team I was privileged to be part of.”
How to apply
The MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp is highly selective and based on five criteria: rigor, initiative, contribution to community, team and cultural fit, and entrepreneurship potential. Organizers for next year’s Brisbane bootcamp are looking for three kinds of talent:
- Entrepreneur: Do you have an early-stage startup or an aspiration to start one? Meet potential co-founders and collaborators, and get on a path to paying customers.
- Corporate entrepreneur: Do you work at a growth-stage startup or established enterprise? Expand your company's horizons, learn new tools for innovation and meet potential partners and recruits.
- Team: Are you part of an innovative start-up team? Work with MIT to develop a rigorous business plan, pressure-test your processes and become a better team.
Applications will be accepted until Jan. 31, 2017, with an early-bird deadline of Dec. 1. A limited number of merit-based scholarships are available, so apply as early as possible. To qualify for a scholarship, you must submit your application before Dec. 15.