MIT REAP Launches Pilot Initiative with UK Regions

March 10, 2020

To support regions in the UK, MIT has launched a short UK-focused pilot of its global Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP), supported by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), with a first workshop on 9-10 March 2020. Drawing on MIT’s insights in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and its data-driven approach, this shortened but impactful MIT REAP–UK pilot will work with six regions (local enterprise partnerships or LEPs, with a real commitment to ‘place’, see details below) to create actionable strategies during 2020, intended to make an immediate impact.


In January 2020, MIT was hosted by the Leeds City Region team as part of the full, global MIT REAP program.  During this week, MIT, BEIS, and Loughborough University (MIT REAP–UK’s University collaborator) announced the launch of this new initiative. The one-year pilot program will apply MIT REAP’s proven approach to driving regional innovation and entrepreneurship to a select group of LEPs across the UK, with the aim of helping each one identify their strengths and opportunities for innovation-driven enterprises and to execute strategic interventions to grow their local ecosystems.


As background, MIT REAP (launched in 2012) has engaged over 50 regions globally through its team-based, multi-stakeholder model for innovation-driven enterprise. Whereas the traditional global program is a two-year engagement with a cohort of teams from regions around the world, with the UK Initiative, for the first time MIT REAP will work with a cohort of teams from within one country on an accelerated, carefully tailored track. This partnership builds on MIT REAP’s previous successful work with teams from the UK, including London, Scotland, Wales and currently Leeds City Region.


As part of this bespoke country-focused model, the MIT REAP–UK Initiative is underpinned by strategic objectives developed in collaboration with BEIS, including delivering an ambitious Industrial Strategy, specifically to ensure that the UK is the best place to start and grow a business; and creating opportunities and prosperity across the whole of the UK. In order to achieve these goals, the program will focus on productivity and technology adoption plans as part of each region’s local Industrial Strategy efforts, and on enabling regions to understand key areas of comparative advantage within the UK economy. MIT REAP’s approach will emphasize how regions must both build entrepreneurial capacity—to start and grow businesses—and couple this with innovative capacity—to drive new ideas, technologies and solutions into these businesses.


Over the course of the engagement, MIT REAP–UK Teams will convene for two workshops, and during “Action Phases” between the convenings, will develop and pilot strategic interventions in their regional ecosystems. The MIT REAP curriculum and close advising of Teams will be spearheaded by MIT Sloan School of Management faculty Fiona Murray, William Porter Professor of Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean for Innovation, and Dr. Phil Budden, Senior Lecturer and Diplomatic Advisor to MIT REAP. As a former diplomat, Dr. Budden is an expert in the role of government in supporting regional innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as in engaging all stakeholders in the MIT REAP model (Government alongside University, Corporate, Risk Capital, and Entrepreneur) in driving ecosystem development. Professor Murray, in addition to her leadership role at MIT Sloan, serves on the British Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology (CST) and has been awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to innovation and entrepreneurship in the UK.


“I am delighted that MIT and BEIS will be bringing the MIT REAP experience to a cohort of UK regions,” Professor Murray said. “We have seen the full MIT REAP experience help teams from around the world (including London and Leeds but as far afield as Nova Scotia, Brisbane and Norway), so I am glad that – as one of the Brits on the MIT REAP team – we can work together to help places around the UK.  Insights on innovation and entrepreneurship need to be shared for wider benefit.”


The selected MIT REAP–UK Teams are: Cumbria, Lancashire, and Cheshire and Warrington LEPs; Leicester and Leicestershire LEPs; Sheffield City Region LEP; North East LEP; West Midlands Combined Authority LEPs; and Heart of the South West LEP. 


Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “This government is committed to leveling up the UK by supporting businesses up and down the country. We are excited to be partnering with the world-leading Massachusetts Institute of Technology on this pilot, which presents a fantastic opportunity to drive regional innovation and entrepreneurship, especially in the North of England and wider regions East and West.”


“We are delighted to be collaborating with MIT on the delivery and evaluation of the MIT REAP–UK initiative,” said Professor Robert Allison, President and Vice-Chancellor, Loughborough University. “At Loughborough, we recognize the important role universities play in enabling innovation-driven economic growth through knowledge transfer, spinout company formation and support for entrepreneurs within and beyond the campus community. The multi-stakeholder model at the heart of the MIT REAP–UK initiative provides an excellent framework for enhancing regional innovation ecosystems in a strategic and coordinated manner. In working with MIT on this BEIS-backed pilot study we are pleased to be assisting regions throughout England in their quest for productivity enhancing business growth.” 


Background to MIT REAP 

The two-year MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) provides expert, evidence-based guidance for teams to bring about significant economic and social change in their region. 


MIT selects regional teams each year from around the world, involving leaders from government, business and industry, academia, finance and representatives from the entrepreneurial community.

MIT REAP UK Initiative Workshop 1