Innovation Ecosystems for Regional Entrepreneurship-Acceleration Leaders

Aimed at students wishing to address ‘inclusive innovation’ through a research-based but action-oriented understanding of how to accelerate innovation-driven entrepreneurship and build vibrant and inclusive regional economies

15.364 Innovation Ecosystems (iEcosystems) for Regional Entrepreneurship-Acceleration Leaders (4REAL)

Ready for the Spring of 2021, we are re-orienting our course—with the help of our new TA, Mahreen Khan—to more directly address ‘inclusion’ in our study of innovation ecosystems. We are now co-creating a new syllabus that harnesses the digital tech options, making them an inclusive feature of this hybrid class, not a bug (of the Covid era). (Contribute to a wiki on Notion as homework? Prefer to do a short video or PPT pitch-deck for your assignment? Connect with Teams from our global MIT REAP (Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program). TA Mahreen will share further details at our first class.)


Building on our action-oriented approach, we also want participating students – from MIT and beyond – to be able to use the class to create actionable plans. You can shape your final assignment to be a plan for your next job, a pitch to an organization, or a call to action for a community. By the last week of the class (ie 18 May), we hope that some of you will share your final assignments publicly, so as to encourage and inspire others.

Now is a time to consciously build ‘inclusion’ into the innovation ecosystems we care about, especially as they will be key to helping our regional economies out of the Covid recession in 2021. Let’s make sure this recovery is more inclusive than the one a decade ago, the one that left people and places behind.

So, whether you wish to focus on Roxbury or Rwanda, Greater Boston or Great Britain (or you just don’t know yet!), we hope you will consider joining us in our iEco4REAL class in the Spring. Our first two sessions, on Tuesdays 16 and 23 Feb (530-830pm) will be totally ‘on-line’, but we then transition to a hybrid format, with us at MIT teaching ‘in-person’ (joined by those able/willing/allowed to access the MIT campus).

Innovation Ecosystems (iEco) for Regional Entrepreneurship-Acceleration Leaders (4REAL) is a practical MIT course aimed at students wishing for a research-based but action-oriented understanding of how to accelerate innovation-driven entrepreneurship and build vibrant regional economies. It takes as its starting point the innovation-driven entrepreneurship ecosystems (iEcosystems) that have served as the foundation of many successful regions since the first industrial revolution, and now characterize places such as Silicon Valley, Boston/Cambridge, London, Israel and Singapore.

The course takes the perspective of five critical stakeholders: entrepreneurs, risk capital providers, and universities, as well as policymakers (government) and large corporations. It provides frameworks for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of innovation-driven entrepreneurship in particular regions, and then focuses on interventions – programs and policies – that can be designed and implemented across regional economies worldwide.

The course also takes a systematic approach to assessing the metrics of ‘innovation-driven entrepreneurship’ ecosystems (iEcosystems). Our recent Working Paper is published to seek feedback from researchers, practitioners, decision-makers, and students in our IEco4REAL class!


We aim to have a strongly interactive class (with more than our usual 30 students, as that’s what digital tech and hybrid teaching allow!) that meets once a week. There will be readings for each session and students will be expected to be prepared to make insightful and thoughtful contributions to class discussions.

Class sessions have traditionally taken three different forms:

  • Focus on different approaches to entrepreneurial acceleration e.g. Porter’s cluster approach versus Feld’s entrepreneurs approach.
  • Case studies of different regions – either individual regions or as a paired comparison.
  • Analyses of specific programs and practices with examples e.g. design of accelerators

This Spring, we will go beyond the following three, to allow more time for outside speakers, and student presentations.

The course is open to students from across the MIT community and beyond. It is likely to be of particular interest to students from MIT Sloan (especially MBAs, Sloan Fellows and EMBAs), DUSP and the wider MIT community; as well as Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (HKS) and School of Business (HBS), as well as Wellesley College, Boston University, Tufts, etc. Students in MIT’s TPP, EMBA, MBA, and SF programs will find this of particular interest. We believe that students engaged in the Legatum Center, D-Lab and IDEA Challenge will also be valuable contributors to this course. Remote class participation is possible, especially to accommodate EMBAs.

Students from a diverse variety of different backgrounds and perspectives will benefit from the class.


  • Tuesdays in Spring, 5:30–8:30 pm