MIT REAP introduces new opportunity for global faculty; Team Quito first to take advantage

March 5, 2018

For the first time, this spring 2018, MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) introduced a new opportunity for MIT REAP Teams to engage with MIT by sending an MIT REAP International Faculty Fellow (IFF) to MIT to participate in the innovation and entrepreneurial community, including taking relevant classes for a semester. MIT REAP, a global initiative, (reap.mit.edu) provides opportunities for communities around the world to engage with MIT in an evidence-based, practical approach to strengthening innovation-driven entrepreneurial (IDE) ecosystems. After recently merging with MIT Sloan Global Programs in 2017, MIT REAP is working to integrate and build on existing programs like IFF.


Becoming an MIT REAP IFF is an opportunity for MIT REAP Teams to send faculty from universities engaged with their team to pursue research goals around entrepreneurship and innovation through experiencing classes and the MIT community over a semester. In addition to research, MIT REAP IFFs engage with MIT REAP faculty around their broader REAP team’s strategy.

MIT REAP Team Quito is the first REAP Team to take advantage of this opportunity. In spring 2018, they sent two IFFs, Andrés Robalino-López, Department Chair, Lecturer and Researcher in Management Faculty, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Co-Champion of Team Quito and Xavier Unda, Associate Professor, at Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Data Rockstar of Team Quito. The two IFFs are working closely with MIT REAP faculty advisors Professor Scott Stern, David Sarnoff Professor of Management and Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice at MIT Sloan School of Management.


“REAP provides a wonderful framework to advance entrepreneurship in a specific region.  That being said, a framework is only as useful if it is effectively implemented. A wonderful and critical component to REAP are the IFF and EDP programs.  The IFF program allows for in-person interaction with the MIT faculty around research that will influence a REAP team’s strategy and the nuances of how to implement it. Having IFFs at MIT for a semester enables the team to leverage insights from the MIT community to drive impact in their region,” says Bill Aulet, Managing Director the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice at MIT Sloan School of Management.


During the Spring 2018 semester, the two IFFs are working on a joint research project focused on comparing innovation ecosystems base on their Capabilities, Results and Impact (“CRI-capacities”) as well as informing their Team’s strategic plan. During the 2-year-program of MIT REAP, the team plans to be a key contributing partner of an innovation center being built in Quito, Ecuador to directly support entrepreneurship. For their research, the IFFs are taking an approach similar to the Oslo Manual by the European Commission and are measuring results and impacts in neighboring innovation ecosystems around Quito. The approach is letting them contrast the MIT REAP five stakeholder model with the National Innovation Systems (NIS) models under the advisory of Professor Scott Stern. The Escuela Politecnica Nacional of Ecuador is also supporting the research through the Junior Research Project 2016, number 10 (PIJ-16-10): Technological innovation in organizations: Characterization of Ecuadorian organizations by sectors based on an explanatory model and comparative analysis between countries, and Multi and Interdisciplinary Research Project 2016, number 2 (PIMI-16-02): Beyond the Productive Matrix: Technology, Innovation and Culture in organizations.


“We find it an amazing experience to have academics, scientists,  professionals, students, and alumni all interacting in different spaces related to innovation and entrepreneurship. We have seen talks in classrooms with entrepreneurs who are in different stages and have experienced many levels of success and failure. This really allowed us to see a thriving community that helps each other and at the same an ecosystem that allows students to connect the dots by seeing real life entrepreneurs at different stages. We want to knit these interactions in our own community,” says Andrés Robalino.


As MIT REAP Team Quito continues to make progress in the MIT REAP two year program, the IFFs are using their experience at MIT to continue enhancing their team’s overall strategy as it relates to contributing to the creation of an innovation center. There are important insights that can be gained through participating on-the-ground for an extended period of time in the broader MIT ecosystem. Part of the experience has been open access to the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship where the IFFs are learning from its members about how they implement their entrepreneurial support activities.


“It’s also been a great opportunity to engage with [MIT Professor of the Practice] Bill Aulet on the raison d’etre of the center and the set of programs they provide”, says Xavier Unda.


During the semester, the IFFs are also taking many classes related to innovation ecosystems. While they cannot take every single course offered on this topic, they are taking advantage of the various ways to consume information, such as watching recorded lectures, including that of the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Leaders (REAL) taught by Professor Fiona Murray, William Porter Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management and Associate Dean for Innovation and Dr. Phil Budden, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management and Diplomatic Advisor for MIT REAP.


“This class has been fantastic to understand the science behind the REAP model. It’s also helping us understand the incentives in working with the innovation community and understanding that it is not about individual institutions but actions of collective impact,” says  Xavier Unda.


As the two IFFs finish their semester at MIT, they will return home to Quito, Ecuador with greater insights to strengthen their research, and drive their team initiatives forward through the rest of their time with the MIT REAP program.


“The biggest impact, for us, has been to see all the MIT programs focused on innovation and entrepreneurship at work. I found it very impactful to see the collaborative spirit of the entire university towards innovation,” says Andrés.


In addition to MIT REAP IFFs, there are other opportunities where MIT REAP team members are able to engage with MIT. Other opportunities include:

If you’re interested in pursuing becoming an MIT REAP IFF or other opportunities please contact reap@mit.edu.


Authors: Sarah Jane Maxted, Director of MIT REAP and Travis Hunter, Program Manager at MIT REAP