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Big Ideas in Small Packages

Innovations need a shorter route to market.

Innovation remains the distinctive U.S. advantage; we have no shortage of smart, ambitious people with brilliant new ideas, and a great many of them have ties to MIT. But if we want a thriving economy producing more and better jobs, we need more of those ideas to get to market faster. Today, on average, hardware startups coming out of MIT that require new processes, materials, or manufacturing methods can take more than 10 years to have an impact in the market. The sense of lost opportunity is painful.

At MIT, we are developing strategies to help accelerate all the steps from discovery to invention to production to profitability. At the national level, we are helping to lead the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which links federal and state governments, universities, community colleges, and companies of every size in a drive to rebuild the strength of U.S. manufacturing around advanced technologies. On campus, we have launched an Innovation Initiative focused on ways to enhance every aspect of innovation ecosystems, including our own. And we are beginning work on “MIT.nano.” This $350 million facility at the heart of campus—occupying the footprint of Building 12—will accelerate research and innovation that take advantage of the way materials behave at the atomic scale. By providing first-class facilities for as much as 20 percent of campus research, MIT.nano will foster the kind of collaborative community that is fueling the growth of Kendall Square as an innovation hub and that inspires so many of our graduates to start companies of their own.

As we see so often in MIT Technology Review, ideas that survive the long journey to the marketplace can save lives, create jobs, relieve suffering, reduce waste, increase efficiency, generate joy, build human connection—and change the game in hundreds of other ways. By compressing the time from innovation to impact, we also serve the world.

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