As any basic chemistry text will tell you, a catalyst “causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected”. So it is with the Deshpande Center’s cadre of Catalyst/mentors. These highly accomplished volunteers—whose ranks include seasoned venture investors, “serial entrepreneurs”, and executives with experience in early-stage companies—generously share their time, expertise and guidance with Deshpande grant recipients.
Acting as a bridge between the worlds of academia and business, Catalysts help grantees accelerate the journey from innovation in the lab, to exploration of potential markets, to the launch of spinout companies and, ultimately, to impact in the marketplace.
These individuals combine a strong technical background with deep domain expertise and a sure grasp of market needs and opportunities (current areas of focus include medical devices, therapeutics, electronics, software, energy, and materials). They take part in the grant selection process, serve as advisors to funded projects, and help research teams establish the right connections in target markets and in the investment and entrepreneurial communities.
Not a One-Way Street
By no means is this a one-way relationship. Many Catalysts find that lending their expertise to MIT’s vibrant research community is deeply satisfying on an intellectual, professional and personal level.
To ensure the integrity of funded research, related commercialization efforts, and new-company formation, Catalysts agree to abide by the center’s conflict of interest and confidentiality guidelines.