MIT redefines regional innovation on its own terms: MIT REAP
During the past decades we have witnessed numerous regions across the world grappling with the challenges to shift from old industrial economies to regional innovation driven models to sustain their economic growth, and stay competitive in a global marketplace. Despite the many strategies implemented and investments made, the efforts of regions to make the leap only rarely turned into a success. Exceptions to the rule and world-known examples such as Silicon Valley, Singapore, and Tel Aviv have come through as major innovation and entrepreneurship hubs, while others continue facing disappointment due to their lack of understanding of the regional ecosystem.
Another example is the Boston region which has nailed the transition towards an innovation-driven ecosystem. Acting as a powerhouse of the New England economy with its 25.000 spin-outs worth of nearly $2t – a record that has built up over the past 100 years – MIT is the default address of regions who are embarking on their transformation process. Their capstone global initiative, Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) offers a two-year program during which it empowers regional stakeholders – representatives from government, corporate, academia, risk capital and the entrepreneurial community – to trigger an Innovation Driven Entrepreneurship Ecosystem-led growth.
For many of their participating regions the MIT REAP evidence-based approach has drawn a clear picture of the components of success. From Southwest Norway who are looking for ways to reconfigure its economy that is heavily dependent on the oil and ocean business, to Iceland and Nova Scotia whose economies have long been dominated by natural resources, and Scotland with aspirations to internationalize its local SMEs, their core ingredients for change have been the same: cooperation of key regional actors with expertise, a well-defined regional strategy, and foundational institutions enabling innovative and entrepreneurial capacity development.
So far the MIT REAP has offered real-world solutions to 28 regions to help them develop the building blocks necessary to create an ecosystem favorable to innovative initiatives. The “cohort” system – a group of six to eight regions who participate in the program during the same period – has provided the opportunity to reflect and learn from each other beyond the program content. Though it is still early to discuss overall impact, the initial results of the program have already become visible in the form of new initiatives in the regions represented by the first two ‘alumni’ cohorts.
To read more on the nature and the impact of the REAP program, please read the full case study at: www.ub-cooperation.eu
Meet the authors
Hacer Tercanli is a recent graduate of an Erasmus Mundus Masters course, Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MARIHE), and since November 2016 a Project Officer at UIIN. Previously she has worked in public and private higher education institutions in Turkey and completed a Fulbright Master’s program in Applied Linguistics in the US. As part of her Erasmus Mundus Master Hacer studied in Austria, Finland, China and Germany. During her studies she has participated in HE development projects that involved mapping digital learning environments in Germany and facilitation of internationalization in Turkey. In addition, Hacer has also been involved in EU projects at the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre in Munster, Germany. Among her recent interests are university-industry cooperation and quality assurance in international joint degree programs.