The Deshpande Center occupies a unique niche within MIT’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. In helping researchers commercialize the technologies developed in their labs, we provide financial support and mentoring. We also encourage them to leverage offerings from other MIT groups, which can speed the journey “from idea to innovation to market impact.” Three key resources—the Technology Licensing Office, I-Teams and Venture Mentoring Service—are profiled below.
MIT Technology Licensing Office: Protecting IP
For researchers—and the venture funding community—intellectual property (IP) rights are the foundation of competitive advantage and the magnet that attracts funding for new inventions and ventures. Unfortunately, researchers can be unwittingly compromised through innocent missteps.
The MIT Technology Licensing Office (TLO) works with the Deshpande Center and grant recipients to foster investment while protecting IP rights for the benefit of inventors, MIT and the public. TLO participates in the center’s grant-selection process, advises grantees about judicious disclosure of information, manages patent applications, and licenses inventions to spinout companies and established firms.
i-Teams: Exploring Potential Markets
Once researchers develop a successful proof of concept, the crucial next step is to explore potential markets and applications. Bringing a project to the i-Teams program is a good starting point, especially for those who have no experience commercializing an invention. An Innovation Team—whose members are pursuing advanced degrees in business management, science and/or engineering—evaluates key market opportunities for an invention, assesses technical and market risks, and makes recommendations for an effective commercialization strategy. This can form the basis for a more in-depth market exploration.
Venture Mentoring Service: Preparing to Launch
When grantees are ready to launch a spinout company, they often turn to the MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) for guidance in forming and operating the new venture. A team of 3 to 5 skilled mentor/volunteers, who have experience with early-stage companies, is assigned to meet regularly with the startup team. They offer practical advice and coaching on issues that range from product development, marketing and competitive strategy to intellectual property law and finance.
- The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship fosters innovation-based entrepreneurship through a focused curriculum, networking opportunities, celebration and thought leadership.
- The renowned MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition gives student entrepreneurs a forum to develop and hone pitches, demos and business plans for new ventures that show significant business potential.
- The MIT Enterprise Forum is an innovation-focused, volunteer-driven community that inspires innovation by highlighting company and founder successes; educating entrepreneurs and company founders about how to form and grow promising startups; creating communities that build and strengthen a market sector's ecosystem; and connecting entrepreneurs with the rich resources of MIT. Learn more about their programs and events here.