Most successful entrepreneurs know that it’s not enough to assume that simply inventing a smart or disruptive technology is enough to keep customers running. Among other things, business development involves connecting with the right people in the corporate hierarchy. Yet aspiring entrepreneurs often underestimate the value, cost, and difficulty of forming strategic partnerships.
In a 2020 survey conducted by McKinsey, 75 percent of startup respondents said they consider partnerships with corporates to be very important. Recently, a study conducted by Innovation Leaders in conjunction with MIT Corporate Relations examined the shifting landscape of startup-corporate engagement and found that 61.7 percent of startups said that getting introduced to the right person at the right company was the best way to make a formal start. was the most challenging aspect. Association with a large corporation.
This particular space is where the MIT Startup Exchange thrives. Since its inception in 2014, it has been bridging the gap for startups affiliated with MIT to partner with industry. The program, in which approximately 1,400 MIT-connected startups are actively involved or under evaluation at any given time, brokers close to 600 private meetings annually between MIT-connected entrepreneurs and industry, particularly members of the MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) Are included. , The largest and oldest program of its kind, ILP is the industry’s most comprehensive portal to the institute, enabling corporate partners to access MIT resources to address current challenges and anticipate future needs.
The MIT Startup Exchange was formed as a finger-on-the-pulse response to an evolving business landscape. The traditional model of corporate research and development, in which corporate labs such as AT&T’s Bell Labs were driving technological innovation, had disappeared, and large corporations were turning to startups for innovation in record numbers. This was a trend tailored to the needs of MIT ILP member companies. According to Carl Koster, executive director of MIT Corporate Relations, “The seed for the MIT Startup Exchange was planted during the MIT Corporate Relations-ILP Strategic Planning session – we saw growing interest on behalf of ILP member companies to gain access to MIT-connected.” Look. Startup.”
As corporations turned out to innovate, MIT’s latest program from Corporate Relations paved the way for startups with MIT departments, laboratories, and centers to engage with decision-makers from global corporations. The member companies of the MIT Startup Exchange are based on licensed MIT technology or established by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni. Portfolio companies from MIT’s tough tech venture firm The Engine are also considered for the platform. Of the startups currently working with the program, 82 percent have an MIT graduate as a co-founder, 19 percent have an MIT faculty co-founder, and 15 percent are based on licensed MIT technology.
“MIT is coordinating targeted introductions to Startup Exchange’s bread and butter, a valuable commodity if you consider how much startups typically invest in corporate partnerships,” says Irina Sigalovsky, ILP program director. “We have the potential to play a vital role in the business development of startups.”
MIT spinouts like Tulip, a startup for front-line operations, have benefited from the highly-verified, targeted connections made by Democratic Edge Technology, the MIT Startup Exchange. “From the beginning, Startup Exchange and ILP provided us with valuable introductions to leading global manufacturers including BMW, Porsche, Defond Group and Arauco. Being part of the MIT Startup Exchange gave us the credibility to convert many of these introductions into Tulip customers. Found it,” says Tulip co-founder and CEO Natan Linder PhD ’17. “As we continue to grow our global footprint, we are excited to continue collaborating with Startup Exchange and ILP to bring our platform to others in the industry,” says Linder.
The program gets involved at the juncture where a startup has a minimum viable product and is ready to engage with corporates. “We look for B2B tech startups with innovative solutions to challenging business problems,” explains Markus Dahloff, program director at MIT Startup Exchange. “The ideal time to join us is when you’ve built your corporate entity, sorted out your IP, and have a product that a corporate pilot can do.”
Working closely with MIT ILP, MIT Startup Exchange leverages an extensive database of several hundred corporates from 36 different countries across industries and sectors to provide targeted introductions to startups founded by experts from the MIT innovation ecosystem, such as Tech pioneers Thomas Laurent MS ’01 and David Nezevic ’11, co-founders of the predictive digital twin Pioneer Axelos. Today, Akellos’ technology protects vital multi-billion dollar assets for some of the largest energy operators on the planet. But in 2015, when the MIT Startup Exchange first introduced between Akselos and ILP member company Shell, the MIT spinout had fewer than 20 employees. However, its core product was based on state-of-the-art simulation algorithms developed at MIT. Akselos and Shell will sign a three-year agreement based on that initial MIT startup exchange-brokered meeting.
“The MIT Startup Exchange and ILP has been a hugely effective way for Akselos to connect with key customers and partners who come to MIT with an appetite for innovation,” says Knezevic. He further added, “Some of the largest ILP members have unlocked new innovation curves with Akselos that will enable them to increase their return on equity in their old market and enter new strategic markets, while allowing Akselos to broaden their client base. will help make it happen.”
To help foster networking and partnerships between startups and corporate executives, the MIT Startup Exchange also hosts a robust program of events, workshops, and showcases. Registered members have the opportunity to speak at one of over 20 events held around the world. In a non-pandemic year, capacity crowding is not uncommon for workshops focused on technology areas that run the gamut from aerospace and robotics to cancer and energy. “On a good day, a startup could walk away with more than a dozen high-quality leads from one of our programs,” Dahloff says.
The 2018 MIT Research and Development Conference focuses on emerging disruptive technologies in areas including artificial intelligence, life sciences, new materials and novel design technology. It brought together 400 corporate executives to hear from 10 MIT-affiliated startups, including MIT Startup Exchange member Silverthreads, a leading software economics startup. After the event, Silverthread co-founder and CEO Dan Sturtevent PhD ’13 commented, “It was probably the most productive conference since large companies with a clear mission of developing partnerships.”
The 2018 Startup Exchange Silicon Valley Showcase at GE Ventures featured presentations from startups affiliated with MIT, including Aria Pharmaceuticals (formerly TooXAR) and Cattleya Health. “People from ILP member companies were there to do business and were very open to working with MIT startups,” says Corey Kidd PhD ’07, founder and CEO of Catalia Health, which is a great setup to go to in one meeting. “
And in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, MIT Startup Exchange has not only survived but thrived. The 2020 pivot to virtual events saw a significant jump in both corporate attendance and the number of startup presentations for corporates. By the time Corporate Relations closed the books in fiscal year 2021, the MIT Startup Exchange had hosted 13 startup-focused events involving 235 startups, attended by 1,284 ILP corporate members. Virtual events are inherently more accessible than individual events, but the continued increase in numbers is, among other things, a testament to the program’s adaptability.
In uncertain times, the MIT Startup Exchange continues to foster community and build relationships while advancing knowledge transfer. As economies come to a halt, it brought together corporates and startups in areas such as disease surveillance and contact tracing, supply chain, and the implementation of big data to define digital identities for COVID-related purposes and beyond.
Corporates and startup members embrace the digital model with confidence in no small part because of the trust in the institution. Since receiving its first charter in 1861, MIT has been accelerating and amplifying social and industrial progress, encouraging an interlocking system of scientific and practical that lends itself to innovation and collaboration with industry. . This is a tradition of innovation, exemplified recently by the emergence of messenger RNA vaccines. Nobel laureate Philip Sharp, now an institute professor, conducted unprecedented research at MIT’s Center for Cancer Research during the 1970s that revealed the potential of mRNA. In the 1980s, Robert Langer, now a professor at the David H. Koch Institute, pioneered new means for delivering drugs, including mRNA. Langer co-founded Moderna with MIT alumnus Nubar Afyan PhD ’87 and others.
Today, startups affiliated with MIT continue the tradition. Consider MIT spinout and early MIT startup exchange member Vitricity, which is licensing its novel wireless charging technology to heavy industry manufacturer IHI, a leading supplier of aerospace engine and vehicle turbochargers as well as resource, energy and environmental products. Or Nara Logics, a startup with deep MIT roots, is working with Procter & Gamble to help fulfill the multinational’s quest to harness the potential of data-driven marketing powered by cutting-edge artificial intelligence. These are among the success stories that characterize the collaboration promoted by the MIT Startup Exchange: the fusion of high-potential talent and cutting-edge technology provided by MIT-affiliated startups with the injection of innovation and entrepreneurship with a high-quality corporation. Soul demands.
In a world ravaged by climate change, public health crises, and geopolitical shifts in the business landscape, there is a particularly need to innovate. The MIT Startup Exchange is a unique coordinating force, a place where entrepreneurs, global corporations and academia come together to create powerful synergies that are changing the world.