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Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E)

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Axios

Axios reporter Steph Solis spotlights Kura, an MIT startup that is “developing a platform to help immigrants safely deliver money to loved ones back home.” Solis explains that: “Families worldwide rely on wire services like Western Union and Moneygram, but in some countries picking up money means waiting in long lines and exposing oneself to thieves.” Clifford Nau MBA ’22 and Stephanie Joseph, a Harvard alum, “wanted to build a safer alternative that would be available 24/7.”

TechCrunch

Doug Ricket '01, MEng '02 co-founded PayJoy, a startup that aims to “provide a fair and responsible entry point for individuals in emerging markets to enter the modern financial system, build credit, achieve economic freedom, and access digital connectivity,” reports Mary Ann Azevedo for TechCrunch. “PayJoy is applying a buy now, pay-as-you-go model to the estimated 3 billion adults globally who don’t have credit by allowing them to purchase smartphones and pay weekly for a 3- to 12-month period. The phones themselves are used as collateral for the loan,” explains Azevedo.

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Ron Miller highlights MIT’s role as a driving force behind the Greater Boston area’s success as a hub for startups. Emily Knight, president of The Engine Accelerator, notes that universities are breeding grounds for new ideas. “There is a lot of research and a lot of infant innovation being translated into companies coming out of these [Greater Boston area] universities,” Knight explains.  

The Boston Globe

Prof. Kripa Varanasi co-founded Alsym Energy, a startup “developing rechargeable batteries that won’t be based on lithium or cobalt,” reports Hiawatha Bray for The Boston Globe. “The founders said they expect to build batteries that match the performance of today’s lithium-ion cells but at about half the cost,” writes Bray.

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Shalene Gupta spotlights new research by Prof. David Autor that finds “about 60% of jobs in 2018 did not exist 1940. Since 1940, the bulk of new jobs has shifted from middle-class production and clerical jobs to high-paid professional jobs and low-paid service jobs.” Additionally, the researchers uncovered evidence that “automation eroded twice as many jobs from 1980 to 2018 as it had from 1940 to 1980. While augmentation did add some jobs to the economy, it was not as many as the ones lost by automation.”

Boston.com

Milena Pagán '11 speaks with Boston.com reporter Linda Laban about re-opening her bagel shop, Rebelle Bagels, in Kendall Square. Pagán, who earned a degree in chemical engineering before diving into the culinary world, explains that she felt it was a natural transition from engineering to food. “It’s not a traditional path, but they do have a lot in common,” Pagán explains. “Making bagels feels a lot like engineering.”

The Wall Street Journal

Alumnus Benjamin Rapoport co-founded Precision Neuroscience, a brain-computer interface company, that is developing technology that will allow “paralyzed patients the ability to operate a computer with their thoughts,” reports Jo Craven McGinty for The Wall Street Journal. “In order to be a citizen of the world in 2024, to communicate with loved ones, to make a living, the ability to work with a digital system is indispensable,” says Rapoport. “To operate a word processor is totally transformative.”

Fast Company

Using microwave plasma technology developed at MIT, 6K inc., is turning metals “including scrap, into high-performance materials for various applications,” reports Alex Pasternack for Fast Company. “The process produces no salt or liquid waste, uses just 10% of the water and half of the energy of conventional processes, and reduces costs by half,” writes Pasternack. “Its technique can also precisely control the composition and structure of materials at the atomic level.”

CNN

Radia, an energy startup founded by Mark Lundstrom '91, SM '93, MBA '93, has developed the “Windrunner,” an airplane designed to deliver 300-foot-blades directly to wind farms, reports Maureen O’Hare for CNN. The plane will “help the world meet its decarbonization targets, it’ll use sustainable aviation fuel and need only a simple packed-dirt or gravel runway to land on,” writes O’Hare.

TechCrunch

Harry Rein '15, MEng '16 and Chris Tinsley MBA '20 co-founded ShopMy, a marketing platform designed to connect content creators with brands and monetize their content, reports Laruen Forristal for TechCrunch. “ShopMy’s marketing platform equips creators with the tools they need to earn from their product recommendations, like building digital storefronts, accessing a catalog of millions of products, making commissionable links and chatting directly with companies via mobile app,” explains Forristal.

TechCrunch

Reflex Robotics, a startup co-founded by several MIT alumni, has developed a remotely-operated humanoid robot capable of handling tasks such as grabbing an item off a shelf, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. The robot’s hardware “is an in-house design, featuring a ‘torso’ mounted to a base that allows the arms and sensors to dynamically move up and down,” explains Heater. “It makes for a surprisingly dexterous robot that can access shelves at a variety of heights, while maneuvering tight spaces. The system has a wheeled base, which is perfectly effective for navigating these kinds of layouts.”

The Wall Street Journal

Radia – a startup founded by Mark Lundstrom '91, SM '93, MBA '93 – has unveiled the “WindRunner,” a large cargo plane equipped with wind turbine blades aimed at transforming wind energy across the United States, reports Jennifer Hiller and Brian McGill for The Washington Post. “Radia estimates the larger turbines could reduce the cost of energy by up to 35% and increase the consistency of power generation by 20% compared with today’s onshore turbines,” they write. 

The Boston Globe

Paris Smalls PhD '22 founded Eden GeoPower – a startup that uses “a new kind of fracking that uses jolts of electricity, rather than blasts of water, to shatter underground rocks,” reports Hiawatha Bray for The Boston Globe. “While the process can work for extracting oil and natural gas, Smalls mainly wants to tap into a squeaky-clean energy source — the natural heat of the planet’s crust,” writes Bray.

TechCrunch

Birago Jones SM '12 and Karthik Dinakar SM '12, PhD '17 co-founded Pienso – an AI platform that “lets users build and deploy models without having to write code,” reports Kyle Wiggers for TechCrunch. “Pienso’s flexible, no-code interface allows teams to train models directly using their own company’s data,” says Jones. “This alleviates the privacy concerns of using … models, and also is more accurate, capturing the nuances of each individual company.”