Overview

MIT Global Startup Labs is a multidisciplinary group of MISTI (MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives) that promotes development in emerging regions by cultivating young technology entrepreneurs. We develop curriculum materials, software technologies, platforms, and networks that enable undergraduate students in emerging regions to innovate in the area of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Until 2013, MIT Global Startup Labs was known as MIT AITI. See our history for more information.

Most directly, MIT Global Startup Labs partners with universities in emerging regions and organizes advanced courses taught by MIT student/instructors. Our courses focus on mobile and Internet technologies, and are structured so that our students are awakened to the commercial possibilities of the technologies. Components of the course include detailed technical curriculum, funded business competitions, guest lectures, and networking events, all to help our students develop and realize their ideas.

Concurrent to its courses, MIT Global Startup Labs scales its impact by transferring teaching expertise to our partner universities so that they can incorporate components of our courses with little intervention. Furthermore, we create online course material so that we can reach students across the globe.

Since 2000, MIT Global Startup Labs has sent over 150 MIT instructors to teach over 2000 students in 14 countries, resulting in the creation of businesses and the addition of course offerings at our partner universities.

Leadership

Will Guyster | Program Manager

Program Manager, MISTI

Will Guyster is the manager of the MIT Global Startup Labs (GSL) program. He is responsible for developing Boot Camp training sessions in ICT and entrepreneurship and for fostering innovation and ecosystems for university students and aspiring entrepreneurs across the world and in conjunction with MIT faculty, students, and institutional partners. Considered a subject matter expert in emerging market and youth entrepreneurship by the US State Department, Will has spent the previous 8 years helping develop ventures in low-income countries, both at MIT – as Fellowship Program Manager for the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship – and while living in Ghana where he founded an NGO to pioneer new methods in fighting poverty through the support of socially-responsible, small and medium-sized businesses. During these 8 years, Will has also been asked to guest lecture at MIT and elsewhere on topics in international development and regularly judge global business competitions, affording him the opportunity to have advised nearly 700 different startups. In his previous life, Will had worked for the World Bank and Credit Agricole in New York, and managed a large portfolio of USAID education grants in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Will received his BA from Columbia University where he conducted research in areas of International Political Economy, Political Psychology, and African Development.

Dr. Michael Gordon | Faculty Advisor

Research Scientist, MIT CSAIL

Michael Gordon is a Research Scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Director of MIT Global Startup Labs. His academic research interests focus on applying program analysis techniques to the areas of mobile application security and parallelization. He received his PhD from MIT in 2010 in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Michael is one of the original creators of the StreamIt programming language, employed throughout the world for research of high-performance data-streaming applications. Michael co-organized MIT's nextlab course, MIT's first incubator course focused on mobile technologies in emerging regions. Since 2007, Michael has organized and delivered mobile technologies incubator courses at universities across the world including Kenya, India, South Africa, Nigeria, and Rwanda. Michael also works as an independent mobile technologies consultant focused on developing countries, and he sits on the board of multiple African mobile startups.

Professor Saman Amarasinghe | Faculty Advisor

Professor, MIT

Saman P. Amarasinghe is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory . He received his BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Cornell University in 1988, and his MSEE and Ph.D from Stanford University in 1990 and 1997, respectively. His research interests are in discovering novel approaches to improve the performance of modern computer systems without unduly increasing the complexity faced by either application developers, compiler writers, or computer architects. He is also interested in creating appropriate information technologies for emerging countries. In that, he co-founded Lanka Internet Services (the first ISP in Sri Lanka), developed the TEK low bandwidth search engine and is involved with the Swara voice portal for citizen news journalism project.

History

MIT's Africa Internet Technology Initiative (AITI) was first envisioned by Paul Njoroge while attending the 1998 MIT Leadershape summer program after his sophomore year at MIT. Paul teamed up with fellow classmates Martin Mbaya and Solomon Assefa (also graduates of MIT Leadershape) to plan and launch the inaugural MIT AITI session (initial proposal). The founders of AITI realized that information and communication technologies can aid development. However, many African students are not exposed to a curriculum that focused on technologies appropriate to their environment. The founders had a vision that saw MIT students/instructors traveling to Africa to teach technology and promote development in African schools. Both parties would be benefit from the program. The MIT student/instructors would be enriched by a unique and challenging international experience, and the African students would be exposed to appropriate technologies that would help them to solve local problems and take advantage of local opportunities.

The founders developed the idea with the help of Professor Paul Gray (MIT EECS), President Emeritus of MIT. AITI was largely modeled on the successful MIT-CETI program in China and customized for Africa. In the summer of 2000, the program was piloted at Strathmore College in Kenya. Four MIT student/instructors (Paul Njoroge, Martin Mbaya, Andrew Nevins and Eric Traub) were part of the inaugural team. Each played an important role in taking the program from concept to reality. In 2000, tele-centers (Internet Cafes) were the dominant accessible form of ICT technology for most Africans. Thus, the team's curriculum centered on Java programming, HTML and the basics of UNIX. In addition, to promote entrepreneurship, leading executives from the computer industry in Kenya delivered guest lectures. Furthermore, students were required to work on a group project applying their newly acquired skills.

AITI was originally known as the Africa Internet Technology Initiative. In 2008, we changed our name to the Africa Information Technology Initiative. In 2011, AITI has organized courses in South Asia. To reflect our geographical expansion, AITI has again rebranded.