MIT REAP is a capstone global initiative designed to help regions accelerate economic growth and social progress through innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDE). Partner regions form multi-disciplinary teams and commit to a two-year learning engagement with MIT. During this engagement, teams work with world-renowned MIT faculty and the broader REAP community through a series of action-learning activities to build and implement a custom regional strategy for enhancing their IDE ecosystems.
Partner regions engage leaders from five stakeholder groups–government, risk capital, universities, entrepreneurs, and corporates–with MIT faculty over a two‐year period to leverage MIT expertise and frameworks, develop a customized IDE acceleration strategy and start the implementation process. One such partner region was Veracruz, which participated in the first two-year cycle of the program (2012-2014). Team Veracruz, led by Victor Hugo Moctezuma Aguirre, looked closely at the large industries that dominated their state and evaluated their current entrepreneurial ecosystems with the goal of implementing a strategic framework for driving regional IDE impact.
As a result of the REAP process, the team determined that they needed a new means to connect with a younger, entrepreneurial community in Veracruz. Together, they launched a hackathon focused on strategies for communication during natural disasters, as a way to bring members of that community together, face to face. This was a bold and clever move that helped the team better understand what these young entrepreneurs needed to be successful and to have an impact on the region. And as a result, in January of 2014, iLab Veracruz was born.
This innovation center, ILab, supported by the state government, provides the necessary tools for students and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into sustainable business models and further their skills in information technology and communication. iLab in particular focuses on young people who have not had access to the existing entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“Only two years have passed since we launched, but our focus on those less privileged, and the way we create companies whose products are solving complex global challenges through innovation, has proved its value,” says Aguirre, who is now CEO of iLab. “We are very excited by the opportunities this award will provide. Thanks to MIT for being part of this goal.”
More about MIT REAP
MIT REAP admits partner regions annually to participate in the two-year engagement. A typical REAP region has a population of 1-3 million people. Each partner region has a team comprised of at least 6highly driven and influential regional members and is headed by a regional champion. All 5 major stakeholder groups are represented in an MIT REAP team: government, corporate, university, risk capital, and the entrepreneurial community.
Importantly, regional innovation leaders, not MIT faculty, determine what needs to be done and how best to achieve their goals. Global in focus, the program allows MIT to engage deeply with regions around the world, observe how frameworks are applied in practice, and learn from (and disseminate) ecosystems’ best practices and lessons learned. Now in its third year MIT REAP has engaged more than 20 regions around the world and is already seeing a preliminary and positive impact.