Urenio Watch Watch: Incubators

Bridging the gap between idea and implementation

Great ideas abound at MIT, and the Deshpande Center strives to make them a reality. By funding novel early-stage research, and connecting MIT’s innovators with venture capitalists and entrepreneurial companies, the Center helps emerging technologies to emerge.

MIT has a long tradition of nurturing innovation, providing the technology for new companies, and of building successful relationships with larger corporations that fund research. But historically, obstacles remained in the innovation process, between initial concepts and commercialization. Unproven ideas had little opportunity to advance beyond their theoretical stages. And younger companies lacked ways to discover and fund new ideas. The Deshpande Center is working to change all that, and connect MIT’s innovators with the marketplace.

The Deshpande Center helps turn innovation into entrepreneurship. It gives good ideas — and good companies — a chance. The Center:

Nurtures marketable inventions by:

* Engaging established industry to spark inventions that solve existing needs
* Funding proof-of-concept explorations with Ignition Grants

Fuels market-driven innovation by:

* Funding research with Innovation Grants
* Getting the business community involved at an early stage to help shape the direction of research
* Educating the research community about commercialization to focus efforts in the right areas

Implements innovation in the marketplace by:

* Catalyzing collaborations with partner companies and entrepreneurs
* Directing researchers to appropriate business and entrepreneurial resources
* Serving as a liaison between MIT and the local business community
* Showcasing MIT technologies via symposia and workshops

Research Portfolio

Any technological innovation that addresses a market opportunity is a potential candidate for assistance from the Deshpande Center. The MIT School of Engineering groups research in emerging technologies into the categories below:

Today, IT touches virtually every facet of our lives, even in ways we aren’t aware.

This burgeoning field will continue to improve our longevity and quality of life.

Much smaller than a breadbox — or breadcrumb — these “tiny technologies” (nanotech, materials, micro-optics, etc.) promise to have a huge impact.

Large-scale systems require big ideas. These innovations address networking and communications, complex software systems, supply chains, sociopolitical systems, and the like.

Literally making the world a better place, these technologies address environmental and energy concerns and improve conditions in developing and emerging regions around the globe.

Not all innovations fall neatly into these categories, and some of the most exciting technologies are being developed at the interfaces between them.


To achieve its goal of bridging the Innovation Gap, the Deshpande Center has created a variety of programs that involve communities both inside and outside MIT:

Grant Program
Over the first five years, the Deshpande Center plans to award approximately $15 million in Ignition and Innovation Grants. This funding will enable faculty and their students to pursue exciting new avenues of market-driven research and participate in partnerships and programs that will help accelerate the process towards commercialization.

Catalyst Program
The Center partners with local entrepreneurs, investors, students, the Technology Licensing Office, and the MIT Entrepreneurship Center to bring our funded projects to market.

i-Teams Course
The Deshpande Center has partnered with the Entrepreneurship Center to select high-performance graduate-level student teams that evaluate commercial feasibility for five research projects selected each semester.

Through the annual IdeaStream Symposium, faculty entrepreneurship workshops, and other events, the Center will help catalyze market-focused innovation and showcase new MIT technologies.

Innovation Calendar
A comprehensive calendar of events beyond the Deshpande Center associated with entrepreneurship, innovation and invention has been created.


MIT Deshpande Center