The following email was sent today to the MIT community by Provost Martin A. Schmidt.
To the members of the MIT community:
At the beginning of last year, I charged five MIT working groups and an advisory committee, led by School of Engineering Dean Anantha P. Chandrakasan, to guide the development of Institute policies and procedures for engaging with The Engine. The Engine, an external innovation accelerator, was launched by MIT to help start-ups working on capital- and time-intensive technologies access long-term funding, workspaces, equipment, services, and entrepreneurial expertise needed to bring their ideas from inception to the marketplace. The official opening of The Engine took place in September.
Sixty-two members of the MIT community, including faculty, students, postdocs, and staff, have participated in this effort organized around the following working groups: 1) Facilities Access, chaired by Professor Martin Culpepper; 2) New Models for Technology Licensing, chaired by Professor Timothy Swager; 3) Conflict of Interest, chaired by Professor Klavs Jensen; 4) Visas for MIT Entrepreneurs, chaired by Professor Dick Yue; and 5) MIT’s Innovation Ecosystem, co-chaired by Professors Vladimir Bulović and Fiona Murray.
I shared a preliminary report with the community in June and have since received additional input and feedback from faculty, students, and staff. This final report includes recommendations based on months of activity, including campus-wide engagement, such as a forum on the preliminary recommendations last spring and a session during the faculty meeting this past October. I have reviewed the report’s findings with President Rafael Reif, Vice President for Research Maria Zuber, and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz.
We have prioritized the recommendations and developed an implementation framework that will be facilitated by the MIT Innovation Initiative and its co-directors, Professors Michael Cima and Fiona Murray. Key activities include the creation of a function within the MIT Innovation Initiative to oversee the overall interface between MIT and The Engine, the development of new standard agreements for technology licensing and intellectual property (IP), the formation of an Institute-level Conflict of Interest committee, engagement through the Boston University Entrepreneurship and IP Law Clinic to help international entrepreneurs obtain legal advice on immigration matters, and the creation of a pilot master’s of innovation degree that provides students a clear program of innovation and entrepreneurial offerings—including The Engine—and allows international students to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors.
I am grateful to Professors Cima and Murray for their leadership of this next phase, and as we move forward with implementation, we will continue to look to the MIT community for input and feedback.
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dean Chandrakasan, the Advisory Committee, and the Working Group chairs and members for their creative insights, ideas, and hard work. I am eager to see how these ideas will allow MIT and The Engine help young companies develop transformative innovations toward making a better world.
Martin A. Schmidt