The Deshpande Center helps MIT faculty and students commercialize breakthrough technologies and inventions by transforming promising ideas at MIT into innovative products and cutting-edge spinout companies. Toward this end, the center makes modest but pivotal investments in research that is being done by some of MIT’s most talented scientists and engineers.

Our Ignition Grants and Innovation Grants are open only to MIT faculty and students. Only MIT employees with Principal Investigator (PI) status may submit a application for a grant. Our grants allow MIT researchers to bridge a funding gap that relegates many worthwhile projects to obscurity: the gap between government support for basic science and the availability of private-sector funding for emerging innovations.

A market-oriented perspective

Beyond funding grant recipients’ research, our program helps academically oriented scientists and engineers at MIT develop a more business-minded perspective on their work—which is essential when exploring potential markets and applications.  An immersive experience exposes grantees to a rich net­work of experts—including other MIT researchers, venture investors and executives with experience in early-stage companies—as well as events sponsored by the center and MIT’s startup-friendly culture.

A volunteer Catalyst/mentor is assigned to each funded project. These seasoned en­trepreneurs provide the research team with ongoing guidance as they assess market opportunities, commercialize their inventions and launch startup companies.