Thanks to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we now have wind tunnels, radar detection and the World Wide Web, and now the Cambridge college is raising $150 million to help finance new businesses with a startup accelerator called The Engine.
Startups seeking money from The Engine don’t have to be associated with MIT. The university said that it started The Engine to solve a problem within the current startup economy: Venture capital (VC) financing works well for startups that can profit quickly in the marketplace, but doesn’t help support more time-consuming innovations in technologies like science and engineering.
“If we hope for serious solutions to the world’s great challenges, we need to make sure the innovators working on those problems see a realistic pathway to the marketplace,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif in a news release. “The Engine can provide that pathway by prioritizing breakthrough ideas over early profit.”
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Some of those challenges include clean water, climate change, sustainable energy, cancer, Alzheimer’s and infectious diseases, the school said. By focusing on breaking these advancements out of the lab and into working businesses, The Engine aims to help propel robotics, biotech innovations, energy development and medical devices.
The Engine’s 26,000 square feet will be headquartered in Cambridge’s Central Square, though MIT plans to expand into nearby startup-heavy Kendall Square and other neighborhoods.
Eventually, The Engine will support 60 locally based businesses that will stay in the incubator for up to one year. The budding businesses will get access to affordable workspaces, specialized equipment and guidance in legal, technology licensing and business practices.
“We want highly disruptive entrepreneurs to stay in Greater Boston,” Ruiz said. “This is where the boldest ideas in the world should find their home.”