MIT Launches Ambitious Accelerator to Help Fund and Guide 'Tough' Startups

Published: Oct 28, 2016

MIT Launches Ambitious Accelerator to Help Fund and Guide 'Tough' Startups October 27, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

BOSTON – MIT has entered the startup accelerator game with an aim to spur companies focused on scientific innovation that has the potential to transform society. The university announced the appropriately-named The Engine on Wednesday and said it was seeking $150 million in initial financing to support the work.

According to MIT News, The Engine will serve as a facilitator to bring startups with breakthrough technologies together with venture capitalists. MIT said many of these startups are unable to leave the lab because companies “have difficulty finding stable support and access to the resources they need.” MIT President L. Rafael Reif said The Engine will provide the pathway for companies by “prioritizing breakthrough ideas over early profit” and help the companies shorten the time it takes to meet with venture capitalists. He added that The Engine will also help create an “enthusiastic community of inventors and supporters who share a focus on making a better world.”

“We believe this approach can offer exponential growth to regions that pursue it successfully — and we want Greater Boston to lead the way,” Reif said, according to MIT news.

The Engine will start out with 26,000 square feet of space, but the Boston Business Journal reported the goal is to eventually have 200,000 square feet of space through a network of offices and laboratories. As it launches, The Engine will support 60 Boston-area startups that are developing so-called “tough” technologies, MIT News said. The tough technologies are considered “breakthrough ideas that require time and patient capital to commercialize.” The technologies being developed are in a range of various sectors, including biotechnology, robotics, manufacturing, medical devices and energy, MIT News said.

For the funding, MIT will provide the first $25 million and raise the additional $125 million through a new venture-investing arm to provide the long-term capital support, MIT News said. As it begins, The Engine will provide financing to assist these 60 companies in getting off the ground and bring their concepts to a viable stage.

MIT isn’t the only Boston-area school to develop a business incubator—Harvard University also has its own startup accelerator programs, the Journal said.

Not only are schools in the accelerator business, but big pharma is also behind accelerator programs in the Boston area. Companies like Johnson & Johnson and Amgen have also set up incubators to foster innovation. Several municipalities have also developed or backed accelerator programs, including Carlsbad, Calif. and San Jose, Calif.

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