By Daniel de Wolff
Most successful entrepreneurs know it is not enough to assume that inventing a smart or disruptive technology alone is enough to make customers come running. Among other things, business development involves connecting with the right people in the corporate hierarchy. Yet aspiring entrepreneurs often underestimate the value, cost, and difficulty of forming strategic partnerships.
In a 2020 survey conducted by McKinsey, 75 percent of startup respondents said they consider partnerships with corporates very important. More recently, a study by Innovation Leader in conjunction with MIT Corporate Relations examined the shifting landscape of startup-corporate engagement and found that 61.7 percent of startups said getting introductions to the right person in the right company was the most challenging aspect of initiating a formal engagement with a large corporation.
This particular niche is where MIT Startup Exchange thrives. Since its inception in 2014, it has been bridging the gap for MIT-connected startups to partner with industry. The program, which has grown to include approximately 1,400 MIT-connected startups actively involved or under evaluation at any given time, brokers close to 600 private meetings yearly between MIT-connected entrepreneurs and industry, exclusively members of the MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP). The largest and oldest program of its kind, ILP is industry’s most comprehensive portal to the Institute, enabling corporate partners to harness MIT resources to address current challenges and anticipate future needs.