Many of their most potent ideas—safe nuclear technology, self-fertilizing plants, bacteria that can synthesize biofuel—depend on “tough” technologies. Yet from biotech to sustainable energy, from nanomaterials to advanced manufacturing, new ideas forged from new science take time to mature into market-ready products—more time than the traditional venture-capital model allows. As a result, ideas that might help solve the world’s biggest problems have trouble getting out of the lab.
That’s why MIT built The Engine, which was publicly announced on October 26, 2016.
Prioritizing breakthrough ideas over early profit, The Engine represents an exciting new system for startup support, one that shortens the time from idea to investment, and from investment to impact.
To fuel The Engine, MIT is seeking to attract hundreds of millions of dollars of support and to provide hundreds of thousands of square feet of space for entrepreneurs in Kendall Square and nearby communities—starting with 26,000 square feet in its Central Square headquarters.
The Engine provides a physical space where an idea can begin to take shape. It also streamlines the legal processes and agreements required to get products to market. And it links entrepreneurs to “patient capital” from investors who share their vision of addressing big challenges with big ideas.
We’re focused on accelerating two vital stages in the life of a startup: The early “proof of product” stage, when entrepreneurs initially bring their novel idea to life; and the stage when they begin to scale up to commercial production.
The Engine will invest in around 60 locally based startups over a few years; these companies will participate in the accelerator for a couple of months to over 12 months. The Engine will make meaningful investments that will allow participating startups to get off the ground quickly and operate long enough to prove their concepts’ viability. It will also provide business planning, legal, and administrative support.
Through the Engine Room, we’ll provide access to a wide network of lab space, specialized equipment, business guidance, and other resources, at MIT and beyond.
We will also seek to introduce startups to their entrepreneurial peers, and to established companies, in innovation clusters across the region and around the world. We seek to power a network of innovation networks.
Bold entrepreneurs and change agents bring their knowledge and ingenuity to bear on humanity’s great challenges every day. The Engine seeks to help them on the journey from ideation to realization.