Applications Open for MIT SA+P venture accelerator [Deadline: Dec 01, 2016]

MIT, the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) has launched a new entrepreneurship accelerator, DesignX, to cultivate and assist students and faculty developing products, systems, and companies that focus on design and the built environment.


The fields that make up the School of Architecture + Planning offer a myriad of unique approaches and skills to urban problem-solving and entrepreneurship. While in training to be designers, planners, artists, technologists, and developers, our students learn what has been done in the past – but also generate ideas for the future. DesignX is intended to be a launching pad for the SA+P community; to help students, and even faculty and staff, move from idea to tangible action.

DesignX Program


Schedule of Events

DesignX will host a series of information sessions and workshops in the fall of 2016, inviting students and faculty of architecture, planning, media, real estate, and art in SA+P to learn how the accelerator program can be a formative part of their academic program and professional career.

In particular, a Start-up Charrette will help students and teams identify unmet needs in their fields of study, and prompt them for imaginative design solutions.

Teams will enter the formal program through an application process starting November 1.  Students will pitch their ideas before a panel of faculty and practitioners, demonstrating their innovative ideas, approach, or solutions to physical and social issues (or opportunities) in cities and the built environment.

Successful applicants will enroll in an introductory 6-credit IAP experience, followed by a 9-credit Accelerator Workshop in Spring 2017. They will work together with course staff and outside mentors to develop their entrepreneurial concepts through a customized curriculum that may include design hypotheses, process iterations, market/community analyses and impact studies.  With the permission of their advisor (and subject to degree requirements), students are encouraged to take the Workshop in combination with thesis.

Participating teams will receive seed funding of up to $15,000 (in the form of grants) from DesignX to develop their ventures and ideas.

At the conclusion of the Accelerator Workshop, teams should have a viable business plan, functional design prototypes, beta products or services, and be ready to pitch their ventures to outside investors, companies, cities, or community organizations.

Recommended Entrepreneurship Classes

To assist in developing the skills and a necessary mindset for entrepreneurship, we urge you to enroll in one of the following recommended subjects, or alternatively you may select from 56 entrepreneurship classes offered across MIT (see a full list provided by the Martin Trust Center here).

In particular, we call your attention to 11.345J/1.462J “Entrepreneurship in Development”, a 6-credit subject taught by professor John Kennedy in the second-half of the Fall 2016 semester.  This class focuses on the built environment and is being offered in coordination with the DesignX program

Fall 2016:

11.345[J] Entrepreneurship in Development (6 units)

MAS.665[J] Development Ventures (12 units)

15.390 New Enterprises (9 units)

15.399 Entrepreneurship Lab (12 units)

15.572 Analytics Lab: Action Learning Seminar on Analytics, Machine Learning, and the Digital Economy  (9 units)

2.729[J] D-Lab: Design for Scale (12 units)

6.933 Entrepreneurship in Engineering: The Founder’s Journey (12 units)

Spring  2017:

2.722[J] D-Lab: Design (12 units)

3.207 Innovation and Commercialization (12 units)

15.392 Entrepreneurial Product Development and Marketing (6 units)

15.912 Strategic Management of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (6 units)


A critical component of the accelerator program is dedicated mentorship provided by industry practitioners, civic, art and technology leaders.

Our diverse group of mentors will meet with accepted student teams before the start of the Accelerator Workshop in order to mutually match and align interests, resources and skill sets. DesignX will facilitate and pair mentors with teams.

Mentors will work with the student teams over the Spring semester, providing advice, criticism, and networking to help test and grow an entrepreneurial organization. In the case of thesis, students may consider having mentors serve in the role of a reader, working in coordination with their academic advisor.  Interactions with mentors will undoubtedly vary based on team and topic, but may include assistance with:

– advancing design concepts
– crafting a business plan
– structuring user surveys or tests
– connecting with strategic partners
– accessing target markets and envisioning growth strategies
– developing a prototype, beta product or service

As part of the Accelerator Workshop, mentors may also offer targeted workshops or lectures focused on their area of business expertise or on an element of entrepreneurship specific for the built environment.


October 28, 2016: Launch Party / Applications Open

December 1st, 2016: Applications Close

December 10th, 2016: DesignX Entry Pitch Day

January 23rd, 2017: IAP Design Entrepreneurship Workshop starts

February 7th, 2017: DesignX 2017 Accelerator Course starts

Apply Now

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