MassChallenge, probably the best startup competition in the world

On January 31 the White House celebrated the MassChallenge Startup Competition and Accelerator as one of the most promising initiatives in the USA for supporting entrepreneurs and announced MassChallenge as a partner in the new Startup America Partnership, an independent entity co-funded by the Kauffman Foundation and the Case Foundation to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate once more time high-growth entrepreneurship. But, what makes MassChallenge so special?

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Multinational R&D labs, here or there?

R&D labs of large corporations, together with academic institutions, tend to be the most important seeds when you want to establish an innovation cluster, aka ecosystem. However, why such R&D labs are located here or there? How can you attract them? Local and national level policy makers can now have a clue.

Intel_Braunschweig_Labor_5

In fact, the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) of the U.S. National Academies, commissioned a survey to find out the factors influencing the locations of R&D facilities, to base policy discussions upon a structured set of data rather than anecdote and case studies. Over 200 multinational companies, across 15 industries, were then approached. Respondents to the survey were high-level R&D personnel involved with R&D location decisions, being asked to avoid general and their own perceptions. Moreover, when asking about location, questions were in terms of employees rather than mere money investment. Finally, respondents were instructed to pick the site most central to their firm’s R&D strategy, as a reference to their answers.

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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.

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

Last November I had the chance to do a study tour at MIT. I attended the 2009 Research and Development Conference and the probably more interesting MIT ILP Regional Competitiveness Workshop Series.  Here, I will report about the latter, even though it was terrific to listen to leading scientists such as Daniel Nocera and Angela Belcher. In fact, the aim of the workshop was to tell the audience how it could be possible to re-create somewhere else the Boston eco-system, i.e. that environment “fostering Innovation and encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation”.

Dome alight

According to MIT, there are several elements needed to create and to make such an environment  self-sustaining. The most important are probably:

  • Educational institutions such as MIT. Well, they claim, their students, graduates, researchers and professors are more than encouraged to create companies based on their activities in classes or labs. That could sound a bit kind of conceited, but let me give you some (amazing) numbers: in February 2009 there were 25,800 currently active companies founded by MIT alumni, they employed 3.3 milion people, their revenues would make the 17th largest economy in the world and their annual sales even the 11th. But, why does it happen? Well, this could probably be discussed in the next coming posts, if you wish. For now,  you can download the executive summary of the research giving these figures in the Box.net widget on your right: MIT_Kauffman_Report.pdf.