Welcome to REAL @ MIT

REAL: Regional Entrepreneurial Acceleration Lab


The REAL Lab is designed to provide students with the foundational knowledge, insights and tools that they need to be more effective participants in regional entrepreneurial ecosystems, in whichever key stakeholder category they see themselves: entrepreneurs, risk capital, universities, large corporate and government.  The course is built upon strong intellectual foundations: current research from the economics, sociology and politics of accelerating economic development and prosperity through entrepreneurship.  Our focus will be on specific programs such as traditional policy levers (eg immigration, tax, intellectual property, etc), as well as entrepreneur-focused ones such as competitions, accelerators and mentoring networks.  In addition, the class is also practical and will draw deeply on real world experience including case studies of particular regions and examples of entrepreneurship in different sectors.  We will discuss the challenges of implementation and the role of different stakeholders in implementing a range of policies, programs and practices. 


At the end of REAL, students will have a deeper understanding of:

  • The core elements that constitute effective and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • The economic and social challenges of building entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • How to design specific programs that will accelerate ecosystem development
  • The pros and cons of different policy initiatives designed to increase the rate of entrepreneurship around the world
  • How to develop a realistic implementation approach that engages all five key stakeholders: government, entrepreneurs, risk capital, large corporate and universities
  • Specific cases of regional entrepreneurial ecosystems in the life sciences, clean tech and creative media.
  • Specific cases of regional entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world including: London, Singapore, South Korea, Chile, Silicon Valley (and of course Boston!)


Course Format:

We aim to have a strongly interactive class (with around 30 students) that meets once a week (Thursday 6pm-8pm).  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 will take 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