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About MIT: Inventions & innovations

For more than 150 years, the Institute has married teaching with engineering and scientific studies—and produced an unending stream of world-changing advancements. These innovations translate the novel discoveries of basic research to products and infrastructure used by ordinary people in everyday life.

A few years ago, the Boston Globe published a ranked list of 150 inventions and discoveries associated with MIT, including everything from the World Wide Web to Technicolor.

Here are a few of the accomplishments from this decade:

  • 2010—Designing computer techniques that automatically decipher ancient languages
  • 2011—Building a new radar system that can see through walls up to 60 feet away
  • 2012—Demonstrating the existence of a fundamentally new magnetic state called quantum spin liquid
  • 2013—Developing a new steelmaking process that produces no emissions other than pure oxygen
  • 2014—Designing a new paper strip diagnostic test to rapidly diagnose Ebola viral hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola
  • 2015—Designing the bandage of the future: a gel-like material that can incorporate tiny drug-delivering channels that release medicine in response to changes in skin temperature and light up if medicine is running low
  • 2016—Recording the first direct detection of gravitational waves reaching the Earth (in collaboration with Caltech and others around the world), confirming Albert Einstein’s prediction from 100 years ago
  • 2017—Adapting a CRISPR protein that targets RNA rather than DNA, for use as a rapid, inexpensive, highly sensitive diagnostic tool with the potential to transform research and global public health
  • 2018—Developing the first-ever plane that relies on a powerful flow of ions instead of moving parts to generate thrust and propel the plane over a sustained, steady flight, thus eliminating the need for fossil fuels
  • 2019—Designing an affordable, easy-to-use handheld sensor that can indicate the presence of bacterial contaminants in food in seconds

Entrepreneurship at MIT

MIT’s mission demands that we apply the knowledge we produce. One way this happens is through entrepreneurship: translating new discoveries into products, infrastructures, and even entire industries.

According to the 2015 Entrepreneurship and Innovation at MIT report, MIT alumni have launched 30,200 active companies, employing roughly 4.6 million people, and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenues. That revenue is roughly equivalent to the GDP of India, the 10th largest economy in the world at the time the study was conducted.

Undergraduate research

MIT undergraduates are active participants in the research enterprise and entrepreneurial environment of MIT.

One of the earliest programs of its kind in the United States, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) supports thousands of projects each year, with 91% of MIT students participating in at least one UROP during their undergraduate years.

Undergraduate entrepreneurship

At MIT, we’re committed to nurturing students curiosity and providing them with the resources to help them get started on entrepreneurial projects of their own. Any MIT student can request between $1,000 and $25,000 from the Sandbox Innovation Fund Program to explore taking a project from idea to impact. The program helps jump-start student ideas while providing support and dedicated mentoring from within MIT. The Trust Center also provides a wealth of entrepreneurial mentorship, incubation, and honest-broker advice to all students.