Chip Chick, a blog devoted to “Tech and Gadgets from a Girls’ Perspective,” is saluting the 20th birthday of an MIT alumni business success, iRobot. Here is their shoutout:

“In the 90’s two MIT grads, Colin Angle [’89, SM ’91] and Helen Greiner [’89, SM ’90], and their MIT Professor, Rodney Brooks, joined forces to make practical robots a reality and 20 years later they are still at the forefront of technology with new and exciting ways to not only help us in our homes but in healthcare, research, and education. It all started by them winning the NASA Group Achievement Award from designing a behavior-controlled rover for NASA. This led to the Sojourner exploring Mars in 1997. In 2002, iRobot launched two robots that would ultimately cement them into our culture, the Roomba floor vacuuming robot and PackBot tactical mobile robot. Five million robots from the household line of vacuum robots have sold worldwide, making it the best-selling consumer robots in history. 3,000 units of the PackBot have also been dispatched to the military and as well as civilians worldwide.”

You can celebrate virtually by watching a Packbot music video created by the band Landsdowne and iRobot that shows off the Packbot at work deactivating bombs and such.

MIT Global Startup Workshop

Register today for the MIT Global Startup Workshop.

Considering innovative start-up ideas? Looking to expand your entrepreneurial network on a global scale? Attend the MIT Global Startup Workshop, the world’s premier learning and networking opportunity for entrepreneurs. This year’s workshop will be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, March 24–26, to the theme of Conquering the Economic Crisis with Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Green Energy. Its focus will be to interactively explore how to harness the powers of entrepreneurship and green-energy technologies to recover from the current economic crisis and create long-term sustainability. Iceland, a world leader in the emerging field of green energy, is the only country generating 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

The student-run three-day conference is geared to up-and-coming and established entrepreneurial leaders, financiers, professors, students, government agents, and private parties looking to stimulate discussion, generate ideas, and share best entrepreneurial practices. It features inspirational talks, expert panel discussions, interactive case studies, breakout sessions, an elevator pitch competition, a business plan competition workshop, and plenty of opportunities for facilitated networking with participants from more than 60 nations. You’ll leave with a global support network for all stages of entrepreneurial activity.

“Three power-packed days—fun, eye-opening, inspirational.”
—GSW attendee

This year’s confirmed keynote speakers include:

  • Alf Bjørseth (founder of Renewable Energy Corporation)
  • Robin Chase SM ’86 (founder of Zipcar and GoLoco)
  • Nader F. Darehshori (former CEO of Houghton Mifflin)
  • Kenneth P. Morse (founder of 3Com and five other companies).

Join this unique community, experience the dynamic forum, and help build the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Register today.

With 2010 on the horizon, many journalists and commentators have been surveying the year in review and commenting on its themes and trends. The financial crisis and its attendant challenges—high unemployment and the sluggish economy, etc—has been central to many conversations.

One question some MIT alumni and faculty members are asking is, can the Institute improve things in 2010? Technological innovation is one thing, but what about stimulating economic growth? For an assessment of MIT’s impact on local, regional, and global economies, Slice turned to a report released by the Kauffman Foundation.

According to the study Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT:

  • If the active companies founded by MIT graduates formed an independent nation, their revenues would make that nation at least the seventeenth-largest economy in the world.
  • An estimated 6,900 MIT alumni companies with worldwide sales of approximately $164 billion are located in Massachusetts alone and represent 26 percent of the sales of all Massachusetts companies.
  • 4,100 MIT alumni-founded firms are based in California, and generate an estimated $134 billion in worldwide sales.
  • States currently benefiting most from jobs created by MIT alumni companies are Massachusetts (estimated at just under one million jobs worldwide); California (estimated at 526,000 jobs), New York (estimated at 231,000 jobs), Texas (estimated at 184,000) and Virginia (estimated at 136,000).

Overall, the study found that the overwhelming majority of alumni-founded companies have the potential to stimulate local economies because so many of them are manufacturing, biotech, software or consulting firms that sell to national and world markets.

Want to learn more? Read the full report.

MIT is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity and NASDAQ OMX has noticed—so the world’s busiest stock exchange invited MIT folks to do the closing bell honors on Friday, Nov. 6. In fact, MIT Alumni Association President Ken Wang ’71 and MIT Enterprise Forum Chairman and President Rich Kivel will do the ringing. Update: see the video shown in Times Square.

Seven-story NASDAQ screen featured MIT Nov. 6.

Seven-story NASDAQ screen featured MIT Nov 6.

If you are near Times Square, just wander over at 3:30 p.m. and you can see a video featuring MIT entrepreneurs and inventors continuously displayed on the seven-story high NASDAQ tower, the largest stationary video display in the world. That’s when the MIT Webstream begins as well.

At 3:45 p.m., the actual bell ceremony begins and the event, with close-captioned remarks, is  set to be broadcast on the tower. After the stock market closes, the Webstream returns to the giant video broadcast until 4:30 p.m.

The event is also a chance to showcase Global Entrepreneurship Week, Nov. 16-22, an effort to engage millions of young people around the world in a growing movement to generate new ideas and to seek better ways of doing things. The sponsors are the Kauffman Foundation, which fosters a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, and Make Your Mark, the UK’s national campaign to give people the confidence, skills, and ambition to be enterprising. The MIT Enterprise Forum is a global partner of  Global Enterpreneurship Week.

Although commentators are talking about green sprouts poking up through the somber economic landscape, it’s still tough to garner success in business. Still, you can find some optimism and tips from MIT sources.

The 2009 National Best Books Award tapped a new book by Steven Spear SM ’93, an MIT senior lecturer and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Chasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance the Competition describes how exceptional organizations create competitive advantage through the strength of their internal operations. He dissects what “high-velocity companies” like Toyota and Southwest Airlines do that droves of wannabees do not.growing_EF

On Spear’s Chasing the Rabbit blog you can read the first chapter of the book and get current tips.

The next global broadcast of the MIT Enterprise Forum, a project of the MIT Alumni Association, targets how to thrive in turbulent times. The Tough Get Growing: How to Succeed in a Down Economy is set for Monday evening, Nov. 16. You can network and see it on campus or go to one of the many worldwide viewing sites. Speakers include innovative business leader Helen Greiner ’89, SM ’90, CEO of the Droid Works, a robotics skunkworks. She is co-founder of iRobot which she transformed, with business partners Colin Angle ’89, SM ’91, and MIT Prof. Rod Brooks, from an spin-off into a ~$300 million business and the global leader of practical robots. 

Starting Up When the Economy Is Down” provides business tips from fellow alumni and points to MIT resources for alumni.

Interested in building a successful high-tech business and meeting people with similar goals? You are welcome to join the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF), a global networking organization devoted to building connections between technology entrepreneurs and their communities.

Rich Kivel, MIT Enterprise Forum Global Board.

Rich Kivel, MIT Enterprise Forum Global Board.

Rich Kivel, chair of the Enterprise Forum Global Board, laid it on the line in a recent video interview in Washington DC: “The vision behind the MIT Enterprise Forum is about wealth creation, fostering entrepreneurship, and really looking to build a method of sharing knowledge and experience.”

Kivel, CEO of TheraGenetics, a London-based company that develops pharmacogenetic diagnostic tests for disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and Alzheimer’s, says MITEF events help entrepreneurs realize key goals—meeting and learning from their peers. Events include topical global broadcasts plus 300 gatherings a year offered by 24 chapters worldwide–and you are welcome whether you are an MIT grad or not.

MITEF, a program of the MIT Alumni Association, has been nominated for the MIT 150 Exhibit, the MIT Museum’s quest to find and feature the Institute’s most treasured objects and entities for the Institute’s 150th anniversary in 2011. You can comment on the nomination, or any other nominated item, or submit your own—just follow the link on the MITEF Web site.