Bright future for Cambridge-MIT Institute


19-02-2001

A new generation of innovators and leaders on both sides of the Atlantic is the promised outcome of 'unprecedented' collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), of Cambridge, USA.

The formation of the new Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) - funded by the DTI with more than 65m over five years - also aims to help stimulate the UK's industrial and economic development, the President of MIT, Dr Chuck Vest, told a packed Cambridge Network Open Meeting at the Q.Ton Centre on Friday.



MIT's track record in spawning innovation and enterprise was not a blueprint for others, 'but there may be some valuable lessons to be learned,' he said. 'Innovation is a collaborative activity that requires people, organisations and capital to translate ideas into products and services and move them into the marketplace. It also requires the right policies on the part of Government.'



MIT's success showed that partnerships between academia, industry and Government really worked, he said. MIT enjoyed financial support from the US Federal Government, and the university worked closely with industry, providing faculty consultancy for technology transfer as well as developing research partnerships. In addition, entrepreneurship was actively fostered - the university had introduced programmes aimed at teaching people about starting, running and building hi-tech ventures; and industry contributed through sponsorship of MIT's renowned $50K business competition.



In fact, a study in 1994 by BankBoston Economics Department discovered that graduates of MIT had founded 4000 firms, translating their knowledge into products, services, and jobs. These firms, in 1994, employed over one million people and generated worldwide revenues of $232 billion.



'An equivalent study today would yield more surprising results,' said Dr Vest. But, he added, 'it is not my intent that we at MIT give you a manual on how to do it.



'The Cambridge-MIT Institute, CMI, does not yet have a perfect route map. But it has a vision, that we can positively influence productivity and competitiveness in the UK, and indeed, on both sides of the Atlantic.'



Although the collaboration was still in its early stages, Dr Vest outlined some of the activities that had already begun, including student exchanges, the development of new programmes in professional practice for senior managers and executives, and post-graduate programmes aimed at younger managers. ' We also expect to work with Cambridge to find synergy as we continue the development of our Entrepreneurship Centres,' he said.



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