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Letter regarding the creation of The Engine Working Groups and Idea Bank

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The following email was sent today to the MIT community by Provost Martin A. Schmidt.

To the members of the MIT community:

On October 26, 2016, MIT launched The Engine, a new innovation accelerator, designed to meet an underserved need: to help start-ups pursuing capital- and time-intensive technologies access patient capital, workspaces, equipment, services and other resources needed to bring their solutions to the marketplace. I am writing to inform you of 1) the creation of MIT Working Groups charged to guide the development of Institute policies and procedures related to work with The Engine and 2) an opportunity for you to provide input to this activity through an Institute Idea Bank.

Anantha P. Chandrakasan, the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, and Department Head of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, has agreed to chair The Engine Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will receive the recommendations of each working group, which are comprised of faculty, students, postdocs, and staff with specialized expertise.

The working groups are focusing on five matters, as they relate to The Engine, and are chaired by MIT faculty members, as follows:

1. Facilities Access  — Chair: Martin Culpepper, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

2. New Models for Technology Licensing — Chair: Timothy Swager, John D. MacArthur Professor, Department of Chemistry

3. Conflict of Interest — Chair: Klavs Jensen, Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

4. Visas for MIT Entrepreneurs — Chair: Dick Yue, Philip J. Solondz Professor of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering

5. MIT’s Innovation Ecosystem — Co-Chairs: Vladimir Bulović, Associate Dean for Innovation and Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Professor of Emerging Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science; and Fiona Murray, Associate Dean for Innovation and William Porter (1967) Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management

Membership of the working groups can be found here. The Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Chandrakasan and comprised of the chairs of each working group, Vice President and General Counsel Mark DiVincenzo, Executive Director of the MIT Industrial Performance Center Elisabeth B. Reynolds, and Senior Director for Institute Affairs Glen Comiso will evaluate and propose endorsed recommendations to myself, the Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz, and Vice President for Research Maria Zuber for approval and implementation.

In addition to the efforts of the working groups, we want to gain input from the entire MIT community. As a first step, we have launched an Idea Bank to collect suggestions regarding each working group’s focus area. We very much look forward to receiving your recommendations before the Idea Bank closes at the end of February 2017.

We also plan to hold a community forum on March 22, 5:00 p.m. –6:00 p.m. (location: TBD) to discuss Idea Bank submissions and preliminary findings of the working groups. The working groups will then deliver a report with their policy recommendations in April 2017.

I am grateful to Professor Chandrakasan, the advisory committee and members of the working groups for taking on this important effort. We are eager to see how The Engine will help young companies develop innovations that positively transform society and help create a better world.


Martin A. Schmidt

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