In October 2013, representatives of The Conference Board of Canada and a group of innovation-focused executives travelled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a study tour at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The tour provided an experience not only to “see” and “feel” the day-to-day workings of MIT’s innovation ecosystem, but also to hear from experts in the field. This briefing explores the overarching lessons learned on this study tour: the conditions necessary to encourage a robust innovation culture and ecosystem can be built specifically for that purpose. Moreover, the creativity that so many of us assume is innate is actually sparked through a collection of deliberate design elements such as those we saw applied at MIT.
The briefing examines three initiatives—innovation ecosystems, sandboxes, and harnessing the power of big data. Through a detailed literature review, targeted interviews, and a collection of lessons gleaned from the study tour, it provides insights and showcases best practices employed in some of the most successful examples of cross-pollination.