MIT launches Venture Capital Fund - The Engine

21 September, 2017 | By Ruchika Sharma
MIT

Boston being one of the epicenters of technology innovation globally is like the breeding ground for the next Eureka moment to strike a certain someone which might solve some of the biggest challenges in the business as well as ecological world. Amidst the funding drought that extremely fancy startup ideas called “moonshots” are facing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has decided to take matters into its own hands and has gone ahead and launched its own venture fund. MIT has very aptly named it The Engine Fund.

Private investment in the startup space all over the world has been witnessing a downward swing for quite some time now. Apart from the odd deal here and there and the average ticket size reducing, it has become a little harder than earlier to secure funding for an out-of-the-world idea, even though the system is flush with liquidity (one of the highest levels).

It has been observed that Venture Capital and Private Equity are both backing tech that is sure to succeed and this is the area where the ticket size of the investment funding is back to plotting the upwards trajectory.

The Engine, based out of Boston and Cambridge, has managed to raise approximately two hundred million USD in fund assets to be deployed into various ventures and ideas in the area. The money will be used both in the form of incubation as well as cash infusion to help the ventures further realise the reality of their ideas.

The area of investment chosen has been named as “toughtech” areas in science and technology such as aerospace, advanced materials, biotech, genetic engineering and renewable energy.

Katie Rae, CEO and Managing Partner of the Engine Fund very clearly states the investment ideology at the Engine Fund, which is to bring funding to areas otherwise considered to be risky by established players, which in this day and age are extra focused on the software space. Toughtech is to be like a very cohesive integration of both hardware as well as software over a considerably longer time taken to be brought to the market.

A startup based anywhere in the world can approach the Engine Fund for investments or incubation but there is a catch to the whole deal -  on successful raising of funds, the startup will have to move to Boston. The aim is to build “clusters” which is a sort of a lab around specific areas like energy and biomedicine to help provide facilities to the startups.

Of the 200 million USD raised, 25 million USD came directly from MIT and the remaining amount is being raised from family offices and other funds. The Engine has also announced a list of the first seven ventures that it is going to invest in. The lucky ones are:-

  • Analytical Space - Provide extremely high speed data and systems with no delay from the space to solve global challenges such as precision agriculture, climate monitoring, and city planning
  • Baseload Renewables - Ultra low cost energy storage to replace fossil fuels baseload generation
  • C2Sense - Digital olfactory sensor for industrial use cases such as food, agriculture, and worker safety
  • Kytopen - Development of genetically engineered cells by developing technology that modifies microorganisms 10,000 times faster than current state-of-the-art methods
  • iSee - next generation of humanistic artificial intelligence
  • Via Separations - Materials technology for industrial separation processes utilizing ten times lesser energy
  • Suono Bio - Ultrasonic targeted delivery of therapeutics and macromolecules

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