MIT REAP Announces New Global Cohort to the Program

May 10, 2018

By: Sarah Jane Maxted, Director, MIT REAP and Travis Hunter, Program Manager, MIT REAP in MIT Sloan Global Programs

The MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), an initiative of MIT Sloan Global Programs, accepted  nine new regional teams from Italy; Denmark; China; Ecuador;  USA; UK; Mexico; Norway; and Australia into the 6th Cohort of the program that will take place from 2018-2020. Each team is comprised of team members representing government, risk capital, academia, corporate and the entrepreneurial community, and they have worked to develop a shared vision for their regional innovation ecosystem that they hope to work towards implementing during the two-year learning engagement with MIT.

“It’s very important for the teams to have a shared vision and ‘urgency for change’ in the region – issues noted are important and critical to the success  entrepreneurs to thrive in their region” says Sarah Jane Maxted, Director of MIT REAP.

Over the two years, MIT REAP teams integrate the MIT REAP frameworks into their regional strategies to address critical issues facing entrepreneurs in the region in an effort to accelerate Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship (IDE) and longer-term economic prosperity and social progress. The teams begin their formal work in  July 2018 where they will formalize the roles of each team member, analyze the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, and determine some of the team’s high-level goals for the two years.  They will then come to MIT in October 2018 for their first official convening with their Cohort.

“MIT REAP is a great opportunity for our [MIT] faculty to share the latest research and insights with regional leaders who can make lasting change for the better. In true MIT fashion, these participants will be ‘drinking from the firehose’ as they learn more about MIT’s approach to entrepreneurship,” says David Capodilupo, Assistant Dean, MIT Sloan Global Programs.

In order for a team to dynamically address some of their regional challenges, they will implement at least one “strategic intervention” that will help ameliorate that particular area of weakness in the region’s innovation ecosystem. These interventions can range in scope from regional prize programs to entrepreneurial education within local technical universities that can be used to build on the region’s unique strengths to support stronger economic and social progress.

Examples of strategic interventions from previous MIT REAP teams include a series of hackathons focused on supporting the creation of IDEs in the phosphate mining industry in Morocco to the creation of an innovation ecosystem grant inspiring startups to make use of their access to the biodiversity of Peru. In Singapore, for example, the MIT REAP Team has launched a program to fund and support research spin-offs start-ups, whereas in Tokyo the MIT REAP Team has helped to arrange the first ever university consortium in the country by establishing the Tokyo Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Tokyo University of Sciences.  Many of these interventions contain elements of programs that have been proven successful at MIT and in the Boston/Cambridge entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, all the strategic interventions are based on the detailed analysis of the regions by the team  in order to be adapted to and sustainable within each region’s unique context.

Cohort 6 will be composed of the following regional teams:

  1. Campania, Italy – co-led by Marco Ferretti, President of MAR.TE and Board of Directors Member and Professor at Parthenope University of Naples as well as Valeria Fascione, Minister for Startups, Innovation, Internationalization at Campania Regional Government
  2. Central Denmark – co-led by Brian Bech Nielsen, Rector of Aarhus University and Jacob Stengaard, CEO at Central Denmark Region
  3. Guangzhou, China – co-led by Dr Cao Xiaping (Jerry), Associate Professor of Finance, PhD program director, Assistant Dean for International Collaboration & Program, Lingnan (University) College, Sun Yat-Sen University and Ricardo Carrera-Lowe, IMBA Candidate – Lingnan (University) College, Sun Yat-Sen
  4. Guayaquil, Ecuador – led by Nathalie Cely, President of Center of Competitiveness and Innovation
  5. Kentucky, USA – led by Luke Ramsay, Economic Development Extension Specialist at University of Kentucky CEDIK
  6. Leeds City, UK – led by Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation at University of Leeds
  7. Monterrey, Mexico – co-led by Monica Martínez Montes, Director of Global Alliances School of Engineering and Sciences at Tecnológico de Monterrey and Antonio Ríos, Regional Dean on Entrepreneurship at Tecnológico de Monterrey
  8. Oslo, Norway led by Morten Irgens, Vice-Rector for Research and Development at Oslo Metropolitan University
  9. Sydney, Australia led by David Wilkinson, Professor and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Corporate Engagement and Advancement), Macquarie University


In year one, Cohort 6 teams will overlap with the teams from the older Cohort 5. The overlapping Cohort model allows the newer teams to learn from the more experienced teams who have begun to implement programs and policies in their region. After completing MIT REAP the regional teams become part of the greater MIT REAP Alumni in the Global Innovation Network where they can receive mentorship from alumni teams who are continuing to implement their long term strategies and can provide insight into shared opportunities and similar challenges they have faced in their own regions.

The cycle of REAP is endless, in a way that fully supports regional teams, both ahead of their start in the program and beyond the two-year program. The alumni of the program have the opportunity to continue to pour insights into the broader community where new teams have the ability to learn from best practice from around the globe.

Participation in MIT REAP creates a virtuous cycle of learning and sharing of best practices with regions around the globe. Ultimately, teams develop a deeper understanding of their unique regional ecosystems and are able to be effective leaders in their communities. “Transformational  change doesn’t happen overnight; you need to understand the system very well and how to facilitate mindset change and create societal role models. REAP is playing an important role in influencing the direction that we want to take to this end,” says Donna Chisholm, Scotland’s REAP Champion and Regional Head of Sectors, Innovation and Programmes at Highlands and Islands Enterprise.