L. Rafael Reif: “We need an innovation pipeline that delivers every drop”

MIT President highlights Tata Center projects as part of a new system of innovation

l rafael reif

Writing in the Washington Post, MIT President L. Rafael Reif describes a crossroads in American entrepreneurship, as the models of venture capital funding and corporate R&D, while effective in many areas, are not designed to accommodate certain new-science innovations.

“It takes time for new-science technologies to make the journey from lab to market, often including time to invent new manufacturing processes. It may take 10 years, which is longer than most venture capitalists can wait.”

“In the past two decades, and especially the past five years, the United States has undergone a profound shift in how it develops, adopts and capitalizes on innovation. Today, our highly optimized, venture-capital-driven innovation system is simply not structured to support complex, slower-growing concepts that could end up being hugely significant — the kind that might lead to disruptive solutions to existential challenges in sustainable energy, water and food security, and health.”

Reif highlighted Tata Center projects as belonging to this new breed of solutions, including “bacteria that can synthesize biofuels” and “affordable desalination at scale.”

He concludes that “the United States needs a more systematic way to help its bottled-up new-science innovators deliver their ideas to the world. That calls for accelerating a two-stage process: from idea to investment, and from investment to impact.”

Full story on MIT News