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From the president

Ideas in abundance

When you dare MIT people to solve a hard problem like climate change, a lot of them will take you up on it.

February 23, 2022
MIT President L.Rafael Reif
MIT President L.Rafael Reif
Simon Simard

With the MIT Climate Grand Challenges (CGC), we asked our faculty to send us the biggest of their big ideas: game-changing solutions to overcome the most complex climate problems. We did not have to wait long for a response. But the next step, exploring each and every brilliant idea … that took some time.

It was a tremendous pleasure to see the results roll in—almost 100 proposals, representing the creative thinking of nearly 400 faculty and researchers. It turns out that when you dare MIT faculty to solve a terrifically hard problem, a lot of them will take you up on it. Fortunately, too many ideas is a wonderful problem to have. 

Initially, we thought we might invite five or six teams to the final round. We ended up inviting 27. (If you have the time, you can read about all of them.) 

This spring, we will announce a small group of extremely promising concepts, which will become flagship projects. Our ultimate goal is to combine the ambition, energy, and creativity of the MIT research community with the know-how and resources of industrial, financial, philanthropic, and government partners who share our commitment to taking on the climate crisis. 

In April, we will highlight the leading CGC projects in a virtual event, welcoming a wide audience to join us: current and potential partners from other universities, government agencies, companies, and nonprofits, along with impact investors and entrepreneurs. The event will be livestreamed, so I hope you will join us too. (Stay tuned to the MIT CGC site for updates.) 

The flagship projects are only the beginning. We are eager for all 27 teams to continue their work, and we are seeking creative ways to marshal MIT’s resources to help. 

With its extraordinary concentration of talent, and its strategic position at the heart of a vibrant innovation ecosystem, the MIT community can play a major role in advancing climate research and delivering transformative solutions to the world. We can take pride in our progress to date, but getting ahead of climate change is a race against time—a race we are all in together.

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