10/23/2018: Accelerating Innovation: DesignX @ MIT

On October 23, 2018 over seventy MIT alumni and guests came to downtown Manhattan to hear a series of presentations from leaders and graduates of DesignX, a startup incubator housed within MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning.

The event was held at the Financial District offices of Arup, a renowned building engineering consultancy with over 12,000 employees worldwide. The event began with an introduction by Alessandra Vecchiarelli, SM ’13, M.Eng ’15, a tunneling engineer with Arup and the host for the event. She thanked attendees for coming and gave a brief introduction to Arup and its legacy. Kenneth Namkung, M.Arch ’03, Vice President of the MIT Club of New York, local representative for MITArchA, and the coordinator of the event then took the podium to say a few words. He described the DesignX program as existing at the intersection of technology, innovation, and design, and noted that this intersection could only exist at an interdisciplinary institution like MIT.

Gilad Rosenzweig MCP ’13, Executive Director of DesignX gave the first talk. He began his presentation by discussing the history of entrepreneurship at MIT, noting that alumni-founded companies generate over 9 trillion dollars in revenue annually. He explained: the structure of the DesignX program; its relationships with industry partners; and its larger academic and research framework. He described some of the program’s recent success stories and its collaborations on campus.

Attendees then saw presentation from three New York and Boston-based companies that were nurtured by the DesignX program. Larissa Ovalles SM ’16 presented the work of PrepHub, which creates urban infrastructure that helps communities deal with natural disasters. Stephanie Lee M.Arch ’19 presented Spaceus, which converts vacant buildings into collaborative workspaces for artists, and Arlene Ducao SM ’13 spoke about the work of Multimer, a location analytics system that supports human-centered spatial design and decision-making.

After the talk ended, the presenters returned to the stage for a question-and-answer session. Attendees asked many thoughtful questions, ending the evening on a high note.