Developing an Innovation Driven Entrepreneurial Advantage (IDEA)
Jonathan Lehrich is the former program director of the MIT Executive MBA program and a member of the MIT Sloan MBA class of 2005.
The first-year MIT EMBAs recently completed the IDEA module, our deep dive into “Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurial Advantage.” Each one of those words is important. This is not a course about entrepreneurship or technology alone. Rather, it’s about entrepreneurship with a specific focus on how innovation can give a competitive edge to both startups and existing firms. It’s intended for students excited by innovation – an excitement shared by every student here – and its social and economic outcomes.
This intensive five-day course is an immersion in the MIT ecosystem. So while the EMBAs attend classes and learn from case discussions on companies like Zipcar and Iridium, they also spend time with MIT lab researchers, Kendall Square CEOs, and Boston-area investors. This year, students even pitched their own startup concepts in the first MIT EMBA Hack-a-Thon, where they pressure-test their ideas with classmates and coaches. Those ideas then become fodder for project work and discussion, covering topics like minimum viable product, strategic metrics, IP licensing, and financing. Some EMBAs are already combining forces to turn those ideas into thriving initiatives and companies.
Our goal is to give students a deep understanding of what MIT’s ecosystem can provide. The course is taught by Professor Fiona Murray, who is also MIT Sloan’s associate dean of innovation and the faculty director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. She brings to the course tremendous knowledge of the Institute, building on her extensive research on how universities can energize and accelerate their local regional entrepreneurial environments and on the ways in which the ecosystem can bring stakeholders together: not just entrepreneurs and investors, but large corporations, universities and governments.
IDEA Week occurs at an exciting moment for first-year students. They’re midway through their second semester, and many are considering an entrepreneurial career either through a new company (often with classmates) or a venture within an existing firm. At this point, students are also thinking about what the program has meant to them in the transformation of their careers and career goals. IDEA provides an extraordinary opportunity for pursuing entrepreneurial interests in a safe and supportive environment. I’m looking forward to seeing those interests grow and evolve.