MIT D-Lab empowers a diverse, global network of innovators to design, develop, and disseminate low-cost technologies to improve the lives of people living in poverty. These innovators - from Zambian welders to Guatemalan industrial designers - operate in environments with limited infrastructure and myriad constraints holding back entrepreneurship and local talent. With the help of training, funds, mentorship, and a vibrant network, hundreds of these innovators have been able to bring their ideas to life.
MIT D-Lab has long known that tapping into local ingenuity is critical to tackling the web of interconnected challenges at the intersection of peace, planet, and prosperity together. However, we have realized that these local innovators need infrastructure and support to succeed: a vibrant, inclusive, and resilient innovation ecosystem. We have also realized that ecosystem builders - makerspaces, accelerators, platforms, and the like - have enormous potential to fill this gap.
In 2018, MIT D-Lab will build upon experience from its International Development Innovation Network (idin.org) program to pilot a new fellowship focused on innovation ecosystems. This pioneering program will enable ecosystem builders across the globe to start and strengthen initiatives, providing more localized support and a stronger enabling environment to the innovators in their communities.
This fellowship will lead to the creation and expansion of local initiatives that directly support innovation. These initiatives may provide education in design, local capital to support entrepreneurship, physical and virtual spaces for problem solving, or collaborative platforms to connect with other innovators. With newfound access to these resources, local innovators will be better able to design, develop and scale solutions.
As our fellowship initiative grows, and as more local innovators see success, other influential institutions will begin to adopt policies and practices that support local innovation. Ultimately, it is our belief that this feedback loop will result in both more innovation and more support for innovation, creating a robust ecosystem and engine for problem solving.