MIT’s New “Model Of Innovation”

I thought that this was a super interesting article.

MIT’s New “Model Of Innovation”I thought that this was a super interesting article.

I thought that this was a super interesting article.

For years, innovation and building new things has largely been an individual or per company mission. Communities in SF, Boston, and New York are the only ones producing outliers.

The sad part is that the rest of the world has the brains and power to work on these big problems. There is a lack of activation for all of this potential.

Raskar, an associate professor at MIT, argues that the standard venture capital-type model of entrepreneurship is insufficient or inappropriate for less industrialized countries. If they rely on individuals or small teams of innovators coming up with companies ready-made for financing, they won’t be able to solve a larger array of social problems, he says. There are too few entrepreneurs with full prototypes and not enough investors willing to take risks on socially useful ideas.

Raskar is developing a series of hubs where innovators work collaboratively. These include the Emerging Worlds initiative at MIT itself, as well as three “RedX” labs in India and one in Brazil. The centers hire hundreds of young innovators to work on problems in predesignated areas, like health diagnostics or how to “monetize garbage” (so it’s more likely to be cleaned up). The hub in Mumbai, for example, currently has prototypes for a web-based tool to screen for cardiovascular diseases, a wearable device for monitoring sleep apnea, a device for diagnosing skin diseases, and a tool for identifying ear infections.

“Venture capital is not an efficient model if you want to make an impact in multiple areas,” Raskar says. “With [this model], the builders work intensively together, crafting solutions over three to six months.”

The hubs are well funded with corporate donations (the one in Mumbai is financed by the TCS Foundation, the philanthropy of the Tata consultancy). Raskar plans to use the prize money to seed new locations, offering trial cash to start with, then more when the groups have proven themselves. Judging by the number of innovators who’ve applied to the existing hubs, it shouldn’t be too hard to drum up requests for new groups.

“We can’t copy and paste the grant-making and venture capital funding of Boston and Silicon Valley into other places. We need to [define] a flow of ideas at the top, then empower enough people to find solutions,” Raskar says.

Anyways, I thought it was interesting, would love to know what you think about ways we are going to move the needle as a society.

Originally published at on October 17, 2016.

Tagged in Startup, Venture Capital

By jordangonen on October 17, 2016.

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Exported from Medium on February 17, 2018.