| 6 minute read

Building resilience in partnerships and co-creating solutions to common challenges at MIT

Luca Barbera
MIT Campus

We are happy to extend a warm welcome to new Initiator member of the UIIN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a renowned research university at the forefront of technological innovation and scientific discovery with their cutting-edge research. We had the opportunity to talk to Lori Glover, JD, the managing director of Global Strategic Alliances for MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) . In her work at CSAIL, she aims to foster impactful collaborations with industry leaders and pioneer advancements at the intersection of technology and human progress.

Lori shed light on MIT’s strategic objectives and the exciting prospects that led them to join the UIIN community. Striving to make an impact on the status quo with their research and technologies, MIT is dedicated at forging long-lasting win-win partnerships globally.

What are MIT’s goals in terms of university-industry engagement and what are your expectations for the coming period?

Currently, MIT CSAIL is looking at expanding research collaborations with other HEIs and industry members. It is of great importance to us MIT, that what is produced at the Institute, such as new technologies and tools, is disseminated and has a positive impact on society. Additionally, we want to develop a deep understanding of the challenges in industry, so that we can address them effectively. At MIT, we are not looking to limit cooperations to a specific sector, but rather we value engagement across diverse sectors to ensure a wide range of impactful partnerships.

Would an international cohort on a theme expertise be of interest to you as far as connecting with other international partners?

Absolutely, I believe it is a fantastic opportunity to understand different perspectives and determine   how we can all work closely together across distance. We are very much looking forward to engaging in international collaborations through which we can address common challenges. We are eager to strike up conversations with universities and companies across the world.

Can you share any success stories of past collaborations at MIT?

We already have fruitful relationships with a number of European universities, for example we have worked a lot with ETH Zurich and previously collaborated with the University of Cambridge. Our collaboration with the University of Cambridge consisted of a special multi-day competition on Cybersecurity named “Cambridge 2 Cambridge”. For this event, students from both MIT and Cambridge joined in blended teams to tackle cybersecurity challenges. We had a 24-hour hackathon   involving students, faculty and alumni mentors from MIT and the University of Cambridge. These types of collaborations that foster new alliances and friendships are really important to us. It is wonderful to be able to share information and knowledge and build such relationships.

What is MIT’s approach to collaboration in terms of university-industry engagement?

We approach collaborations with industry from a win-win perspective. Both we at the university and the industry partners bring value to the table, so we see our collaborations as mutually beneficial.  At CSAIL its really partnership building, not philanthropy. We work towards building strong relationships that avoid being purely transactional. We collaborate with partners to identify current areas of mutual interest, as well as consider potential opportunities that may arise in the future, whether it’s in a year, a decade, or even twenty years from now. We believe in continuous evolution and growth of relationships, fostering truly mutual and beneficial partnerships where both parties win.

As you are considering your partnerships so far into the future, do you also keep in mind sustainability in your relationships?

Absolutely, sustainability is crucial for us when we are building partnerships. My department operates in a way that caters to collaborations with a variety of connection points. We manage an innovation ecosystem from fundamental research to applied research, connections for student talent in our PhD lab, professional development courses for upskilling workforces and we also support start-ups through two start-up focused programs. MIT CSAIL is a prolific lab creator of companies that have spun out from our technological innovations. This ecosystem provides not only immediate solutions to a specific technical need, but also opportunities for long-term planning spanning three, five, ten, or even twenty years out. Our researchers are at the cutting edge of the latest advancements, ensuring a realistic understanding of technology trends, and are able to separate hype or speculation from a technology’s capabilities. This approach creates a robust and comprehensive innovation ecosystem.

What are some challenges that MIT has faced so far, and you expect will face in the future?

The current economic situation is without a doubt the main challenge we have, as I suppose it is for most. During challenging economic times, companies are primarily focused on ensuring shareholder satisfaction and maintaining their financial stability. This often means prioritising short-term goals over long-term strategies, which can lead to neglecting essential aspects of growth and innovation. It is crucial for companies to strike a balance between their immediate needs and long-term vision, avoiding compromising their future success for short-term gains. Viewing industry-university relationships as partnerships can help navigate these economic challenges more effectively, ensuring resilience and continued progress even during turbulent times.

What specific areas and domains are you interested in learning more about from the UIIN community?

So far, I have been immersing myself in the learning materials that UIIN provides and appreciating the global connections that we have made through the community. It is fascinating to hear diverse perspectives on industry challenges and research funding. Mostly, at MIT we are interested in navigating new partnership opportunities  with universities and companies, and understanding the diverse perspectives that reflect how these partnerships are built. This, I believe is a common struggle. Recognising these universal challenges and finding solutions together, both within academia and industry, is incredibly valuable to us and it is here where we have the most to learn from UIIN and your community.

Lori Glover 

Lori Glover
If you would like to learn more about MIT and their initiatives, you can contact Lori Glover
or visit the website of MIT CSAIL and MIT CSAIL ALLIANCES.

Ready for more?

If you enjoyed this article, check out our article on how universities should nurture strategic partnerships, or watch our video about turning transactional university-business relationships into strategic partnerships.

Lauren Kroemer-Pope (interviewer) is the Outreach and Partnerships Specialist at UIIN.

Luca Barbera (author) is an International Projects Intern at UIIN. His work encompasses a broad spectrum of research topics, including sustainability, deep tech, and engagement practices for HEIs and academics, with a particular emphasis on research valorisation.

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