When MIT tells how to create your own ecosystem, Part II

At the MIT ILP Regional Competitiveness Workshop Series we learnt how to create an ecosystem like they have in Boston.

In Part I, we have already seen what Educational Institutions, State & Local Initiatives and Entrepreneurship Support could or should do.

Stata Center, MIT / 20090801.10D.50908 / SML

Other important elements are:

  • Competitions. In Boston there is a competition for everyone. Are you a student? Have you got just what you think is a brilliant idea and you would like to test it in front of an audience and eventually to team up with other folks? Maybe, you have already created a team and have already built something to show. In the best case scenario, you have got a team, a prototype and a business plan too. Great, join the 100K competition. They have elevator pitch contest, executive summary context and, of course, the flagship business plan contest. It is 100% student-run (50 people involved) and 100% sponsor-funded. They claim 120 companies and 2500 jobs created so far. If you are not a student any longer, you may have your start-up. MassChallenge claims to be  the world’s largest global start-up competition. You do not need to originate or headquarter in Massachusetts. You enter the competition and receive access to training, mentors, executives, other team members and sources of funding. You win and receive cash prizes and will qualify for privileged access to funding sources. It starts in Spring 2010.

  • Corporate R&D labs. You need to attract them to attract not only their investments but also smart people wishing to work for them. Around Boston and Cambridge and along the Route 128 there are Microsoft, Google, Novartis, Pfizer and Nokia labs, to name a few. Wouldn’t be great to move here and be part of such a vigorous intellectual community, they say?
  • Start-up companies. You cannot force start-ups to grow. A rich soil with an abundance of what we have said so far is required.  Why are they very important for your environment? Because they tend to bring the youngest people with the freshest ideas. And, most importantly, bigger investment from bigger groups will come for the most promising ones.

For sure, there are some other elements needed to create your own ecosystem such as service providers, Law firms and traditional office space to name a few, regional publications, regional trade associations and, not to mention, investors; just scratched the surface.

In conclusion, my own takeaways:

  1. Entrepreneurship must be condidered as a social value, for it creates companies, jobs therefore wealth for the community.
  2. Academic institutions must be valued and ranked in terms of wealth creation too: number of spin-off companies, number of jobs created by them. Some more suggestions?
  3. Volunteering at some entrepreneurship support organization could be more significant and rewarding than you think.
  4. Give students or recent graduates the opportunity to show their ideas and, most importantly, reward the best ones by giving them money to create prototypes.

About Floriano Bonfigli
Floriano Bonfigli, husband and father. European rather than Italian. Educated at University of Bologna, Strathclyde University and Imperial College of London. Already worked as Research Engineer, Composite Engineer and Structural Analyst in the automotive, aerospace and marine sectors. Also spent some years in IT Product Management. Gerson Lerhman Group Council Member and Educator. Studied Innovation Technology & Management at ISTAO. Currently taking buzz out of Innovation at We Innov8! Last but not least, soccer player and basketball viewer...

2 Responses to When MIT tells how to create your own ecosystem, Part II

  1. Maria says:

    thanks for sharing your experience and insights. I would like to comment your 4th takeaway and somehow stress on it. Having a showcase where presenting your idea is important, because you have someone who clearly says to you kind of “Your idea is the best, there you have some money to go on” or probably “Your idea is not the best but it is worth spending some more time on it, we can help” or just “Forget it”.

  2. Floriano says:

    Hello Maria,
    thanks to you for your comment and for the “Forget it” part. In fact, obtaining that entrepreneurship support I mentioned in Part I, the one given by Deshpande Center for instance, is not obvious at all. They made it very clear at the workshop: if they see your idea is not worth their support they say so very straight. And that happens in most of the cases.
    In conclusion, competitions and that entrepreneurship support act as a very effective filter.

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