Opening of new headquarters for The Engine

Thursday, September 29, 2022

As prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Katie, for that warm introduction. And good evening to all of you! I am delighted to be here with this wonderful group.

I believe that all of us count as fans and supporters of The Engine – some of you from the very beginning! Some of you have been pivotal to developing the Engine’s strategic direction, optimizing its operations and sharing its inspiring message with the world. Some have recruited investors or provided funding yourselves. And some of you represent exactly the kind of brilliant tough-tech teams we set out to serve in the first place.

In short, there could not be a better collection of people to celebrate The Engine’s first five years and to imagine what could be possible in the next five years and beyond.


This group knows a great deal about The Engine. But one thing you may not know is that,  back in the beginning, we were not perfectly certain it would work.

For any one of you who has tried to start up something, based on a new idea, I expect that uncertainty may feel familiar!

We did know that we had identified an important problem, a problem no one else seemed to be addressing: the problem of potentially transformative new-science ideas never making it out of the lab. But we did not even have a good way to describe it – until someone came up with “tough tech.”

Of course, as with any start-up, re-envisioning the problem as an opportunity inspired us.

But once we envisioned The Engine, the real questions started. Could we convince smart people to invest in this untested idea? Would the start-ups that came to The Engine live up to our dreams? Could we recruit the right leader, and the right team, to help those start-ups flourish and grow, all the way from innovation to impact? And could we even find the space to put it all?

Now of course we know: The answer to all of those questions was YES. Investors were amazingly quick to grasp the power of this unusual concept and to step up with serious funding. At last count, The Engine has more than $670 million dollars in assets under management its funds. The 44 companies The Engine has invested in have created an electrifying community of people inventing bold solutions to complex, existential challenges for humankind. In fact, companies from the first round of funding are out there in the field already, building factories, creating more than 1,000 jobs and racing to achieve impact at scale.

In Katie Rae, we have been blessed with a leader of exceptional caliber, and she has built a superb team. And wow, did we ever find space!  Just look around you! In fact, I’m told that, since The Engine first started in its original home at 501 Mass. Ave., with this new headquarters, it has increased its total space and infrastructure by ten times!

Around MIT, where we know a little something about math, we call that an order of magnitude – and I believe it mirrors the fact that the Engine’s member companies have orders-of-magnitude aspirations to do good for the world.


So – that was the first five years! By now, the concept of “tough tech” is so widely understood, it no longer requires quotation marks. When I travel on behalf of MIT, I hear excitement about tough tech, and about The Engine model, everywhere – from other universities, other cities, other nations. I earnestly hope that many other people and places
can benefit from this model and find ways to make it work for them.

But I also happen to believe that, in the next five years, The Engine’s pioneering leadership will make Cambridge and the Greater Boston region the premier hub for tough tech.
It will attract more brilliant founders and funders. And The Engine will continue to build its capacity to accelerate positive change, to meet big problems with big solutions and to bring transformative innovation to the world.

Katie: To you, your team and everyone here who has built this incredible Engine, you have my deepest gratitude and my highest hopes for where you will take us next!