MITdesignX is an academic program in the MIT School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) dedicated to design innovation and entrepreneurship. We empower students, faculty and researchers to build new business ventures and forward-thinking solutions designed to address critical challenges facing the future of cities and the human environment.
MITdesignX provides resources to build new solutions, systems and ventures. Successful ventures exist at the intersection of design, business, science and technology. Interdisciplinary teams of creative thinkers and makers fast-track the development of their innovations and launch ventures into the marketplace. We turn ideas into action.
The MITdesignX Venture Accelerator is a new approach to design innovation, one that is based on creative optimism, and that works closely with partners and stakeholders. The program is a launching pad for students, researchers, and faculty in SA+P, and their collaborators across the MIT community and around the world. We tailor a series of design and business classes, provide academic credits, grants, workspace and a wide network of dedicated mentors, business, institutional and government contacts and funding specialists to build new ventures.
We look for creative innovators dedicated to improving the quality of life in cities and the human environment. MITdesignX seeks diverse, interdisciplinary teams working on challenging ideas with clear vision, passion and a drive to design solutions and launch real ventures.
Each Fall, applicants go through a rigorous selection process that reviews venture designs and ideas based on human and social impact, feasibility, uniqueness, and scalability as well as team composition, diversity and skillset. Finalists pitch before a panel of judges to enter the program.
Applicants may include graduate students, researchers, staff and/or faculty members from the MIT SA+P and their collaborators from across MIT, other universities and beyond.
Previous teams in MITdesignX have included participants from across MIT including SA+P, computer science, engineering, management, biology, and the humanities.
What is the need/problem we aim to solve and who will benefit from our solution
Need/problem description based on interviews and data insights
Analysis of all stake-holder groups and how they benefit from a solution
Demographic and market data reflecting size, growth, provides, competition and trendology
Quick exploration of what it take to develop the venture and make it financially sustainable
Team statement describing what the venture is designed to do
Statement and images describing why stakeholders / customers would apply / buy the solution
Map of what the user will experience
New description of the venture in light of enhanced understanding of the need/problem
What is our solution and why is it beneficial to all stakeholders
What do we want to achieve and what values guide our decision making
Team statement describing what the team aspires to achieve
Team manifesto outlining founder core values and leadership principles
The venture storyline and key message to stakeholders and sponsors / investors
Revenue modeling designed to achieve the team vision and milestone objectives
What key activities the venture must focus on and get right to achieve team objectives
Number and timing of key hires / talent and a list of target partnerships
Three year revenue and cost plans based on team vision and objectives
Introduction to funding options and calculation of funding needs
How will we launch scale and fund our venture
MITdesignX teams design ventures. They create a vision, system, strategy, and business model and build prototypes that explore the feasibility and function of their ideas and solutions. Our academic framework consists of four steps. Each step includes a set of integrated modules where teams explore topics through workshops, lectures, pinups, mentor sessions, site visits and direct customer interaction.
The first step of the framework is to understand the need or problem the new venture is being designed to solve. The teams engage directly with people and stakeholders to learn as much as possible about who they are, and what are their needs and pain points. Based on that understanding, the second step is to clearly define the core concept/function/product/service that will provide the required solution. The third step is to envision what the venture and its founders want to achieve, and define the fundamental principles that will guide their decision making, development and operations including financing of the venture. The fourth and final step is focused on developing a master plan of priorities, people, processes and funds needed to effectively scale and launch the venture.
At the end of the program, all teams will have developed a prototype, investor pitch deck and a “masterplan” for their venture – outlining key actions and strategies. The accelerator program culminates with a pitch night for teams to introduce their ventures to hundreds of investors, stakeholders, civic and industry partners.
After completing the MITdesignX venture accelerator, many ventures attain placements in other accelerators such as Y Combinator, Mass Challenge, Urban-X, and MIT’s own DeltaV. In addition, graduating teams engage in pilot projects in collaboration with industry, city and government partners, customers and NGOs. Pilot projects have been conducted in collaboration with the US cities of Boston, MA, Cambridge, MA, Cary, NC, Portland, OR and internationally in Guangzhou, China, Lima, Peru, and more.
After and during MITdesignX, teams begin to generate revenue, apply for grants, and raise funds from friends and family, angel networks, crowdsourcing platforms, and Venture Capital Firms. The first two cohorts have raised over $3.5 million in grants, angel and venture capital funding from the start of their cohort to 18 months after completing MITdesignX.
Research is at the core of the MITdesignX program. The academic framework of the accelerator is reinforced by discovery of new knowledge through rigorous research and learning experiences examining disruption and innovation within the design and urban domains. Co-creation, collaboration, and the exploration of ideas fuel the discovery process and aid the innovative strategies of MITdesignX teams. This discovery process draws on advanced research projects led by faculty and researchers focused on entrepreneurial performance, education for innovation and design solutions for cities and the human environment.
Up to six paid internships are provided each summer for current students at SA+P to work with new startups created by fellows at Our Generation Speaks (OGS). OGS, based at Brandeis University, hosts Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs in Boston for 3 months to live, learn and work together in pursuit of new ventures and peaceful coexistence. MITdesignX and MISTI (MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives) has partnered with OGS to provide curriculum, mentorship and the support of MIT students to Israeli and Palestinian fellows with backgrounds in design and planning. Interns spend all of August with the startups in addition to an IAP trip to the region.
MIT CREATE is a team of researchers and practitioners working to imagine the future of urban exchange. MIT CREATE is a part of MITdesignX and is focused on exploring methods and solutions that enhance urban development for informal and non-standard economies. Through classes and ongoing collaborative projects, CREATE provides students, practitioners and entrepreneurs meaningful ways to develop and advance inclusive policy, design and entrepreneurial opportunities. Read more at create.mit.edu
Our work and the work of MITdesignX ventures is designed to have a global impact. Through several international partnerships, we expand academic and venture networks for our students, faculty and researchers. Projects include the China Ventures Workshop in partnership with the MIT China Future City Lab and Tsinghua University, and the OGS/MISTI program with Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs. In addition, teams at MITdesignX are working and contributing around the world.