About Proto Ventures

Led by the MIT Innovation Initiative (MITii), MIT has launched a fresh approach to venture formation. Proto Ventures places emphasis on finding transformative and impactful opportunities that can be uniquely uncovered with technology.


Desired Outcomes
Mission Statement
Values Statement
Proto Ventures Process
Inclusion and Diversity



The creation of new ecosystems, markets, and transformative technology ventures that have a profound impact on the world’s great problems.

  •  The Proto Venture process starts with identification of opportunities around problems and technology spaces, which generate a channel. A channel can be proposed through sponsorship.

  • A Venture Builder is an agent with deep technology experience hired by MIT to lead discovery and experimentation of opportunities around a specific channel. This agent is surrounded by domain advisors who are experienced in technology translation.

  • The Venture Builder leads teams composed of MIT Venture Fellows, faculty, advisors, and collaborators to de-risk any proposed Proto Starters during the Discovery and Experimentation phases. These activities culminate with the formation of Proto Ventures which focus on technically feasible solutions, clear value propositions, product-market fit, beachhead customers, and exit strategies.  A select cohort of Proto Ventures progress further to fully incorporate as ventures beyond MIT.

Mission Statement

The Proto Ventures mission is to systematically discover, experiment, mature, and launch new transformative technology ventures capable of having extraordinarily positive impact on the world.

Values Statement

We value collaborative, diverse, and inclusive communities within and around MIT that are capable of manifesting new transformative technology ventures into the world that solve the greatest challenges of the 21st century.

Inclusion and Diversity

MIT Innovation Initiative endeavors to accelerate the participation rates of all underrepresented groups in I&E activities; with the aspiration of broader campus-wide impact. Learn More. 


What is the Proto Ventures Program?

Proto Ventures finds the innovative people, ideas, and technologies across MIT and brings them together to create transformative technology ventures.

Why has the MIT Innovation Initiative launched this program?

The Proto Ventures Program fills a gap in the accellerative development of world-changing ventures through the support of dedicated agents of discovery. 

What are the desired outcomes of Proto Ventures?

The creation of new markets and transformative technology ventures that will have a profound impact on the world’s great problems.

What are channels?

Our channels are bounded topic areas at the intersection of enabling technologies and hidden sectors in innovative combinations.  

How does the program work?

Venture Builders are hired to lead a rigorous “channel” discovery process centered on the MIT community. They have a budget and are supported by a team of Venture Fellows (current MIT community members seeking to work on projects) whom they recruit. The Venture Builder is supported by a board of advisors and a stage-gate framework (discovery, identification, exploration, and experimentation) with a series of value-driven milestones to structure progress.

Who will own the intellectual property (IP) developed within the Proto Ventures Program and how it is licensed?

The Proto Ventures Program follows the same IP development and licensing rules as all other research at MIT, whereby MIT retains ownership of all IP that was “developed with significant use of funds or facilities administered by MIT.” Detailed rules on IP ownership at MIT are available here. All Proto Ventures that reach a stage of maturity for incorporation and launch outside of MIT work with the Technology Licensing Office to license any IP created during the Proto Ventures Program by following standard MIT protocols.