Innovation Diplomacy

For many years, Science Diplomacy was the name of the game. Today, Innovation Diplomacy has stepped up to the plate.

In BetaBoston’s article Innovation Diplomacy: World comes to Greater Boston to learn innovation from MIT, the director of MIT’s REAP (Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program), Chad O’Conner, highlights MIT’s endeavors to make Boston into a hub of innovation.

Inherently, nations that are friendly to entrepreneurship and innovation are attractive to international audiences. By creating an image for Boston as a home for entrepreneurship it opens itself up to foreign direct investment and an influx of bright minds from overseas.

It may seem surprising that a private institution such as MIT is engaged in diplomatic efforts, but the reputation of Boston overseas is an important part of the school’s image and attractiveness.

From an anecdotal level, my brother received his PhD from MIT’s Media Lab a few years ago and in his time there he traveled to India twice as part of the Media Lab’s India Innitiative.

From their mission statement:

The Media Lab India Initiative is an effort by students and alumni from the MIT Media Lab to bring together a community of makers and creators across India, and to facilitate collaboration and sharing of ideas across boundaries of disciplines, institutions and culture.

It serves the double purpose of advertising the quality of an MIT and American education while bridging cultural gaps and having actual personal interaction between Americans and Indians. As usual with public diplomacy, it is difficult to measure levels of engagement, but I think that programs like MIT’s are smart ways of advancing both the institution’s goals as well as the United States’ public diplomacy mission.


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