[{"id":"92","title":"\"Soft Skills, Partnerships Needed to Bridge Economic Divide\"","date":"May 04, 2017","author":"Brian Eastwood","category":"News","image":"img/news/news_sloan1.jpg","description":"\n\t\n\t\n\n

Bridging the nation’s growing economic divide will require partnerships among businesses, governments, and colleges and universities, as well as investments in programs as diverse as early education, job training, family leave, and infrastructure.

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DUCATION PRIORITIES NEED TO SHIFT FOR THE U.S. TO STEM UNEMPLOYMENT AND FALLING WAGES, EXPERTS FROM MIT, ALPHABET SAY.

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By Brian Eastwood  |  MIT Sloan School of Management

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Bridging the nation’s growing economic divide will require partnerships among businesses, governments, and colleges and universities, as well as investments in programs as diverse as early education, job training, family leave, and infrastructure.

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It’s a tall order, but such work is critical to addressing labor shortages, skills gaps, and a lack of diversity in the science and technology fields, according to a group of experts who spoke May 3 at a panel hosted by the Inclusive Innovation Challenge within the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

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“The talent shortage drives everything,” said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. During the event, Schmidt announced that Google.org — Google’s charity organization — is donating $500,000 to the Inclusive Innovation Challenge, which gives awards to organizations that use technology to create economic opportunities and redefine the future of work.

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“Too often, we hear it’s a world without work, but it’s a dangerous and misleading meme, because there are tremendous opportunities to create work,” said MIT Sloan Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy. The challenge is finding the right people for the right jobs — even so-called “middle-skilled” positions that require data input and processing knowledge.

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\"2017-Brynjolfsson\"

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MIT Sloan Professor Erik Brynjolfsson (left) with Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo

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Address soft skills
One solution, Brynjolfsson said, is teaching the underlying cause and effect of economic and business case studies. The particular use case may not be relevant in five years, he added, but the principles behind it will be.

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This approach emphasizes critical thinking as opposed to rote memorization, and it helps address the need for soft skills that are necessary to succeed in today’s workforce — problem solving, creativity, collaboration, and analysis.

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The process must begin early, Brynjolfsson said. Education gaps can appear as young as age 5 and only increase as children grow up, depending on where they live and go to school.

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“Most employers say people are hired for skills and fired for attitude and behavior. It starts in preschool, learning how to play well with others,” said Shawn Bohen, national director for growth and impact at Year Up. The program pairs young adults from low-income neighborhoods with employer partners for one year of on-the-job training as well as education, which help companies find “untapped talent” among those with life experience but less exposure to traditional education, Bohen said.

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At the state level, initiatives such as Massachusetts’ STEM Starter Academy pair community colleges with employers so that students who may not have considered careers in science, technology, engineering, and math know more about the opportunities available to them. Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo said those partnerships are critical to driving employment growth in the state. 

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Short-term pain, long-term gain?
In the short term, Schmidt said, the problem may get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, Alphabet has been taking approaches like training existing employees with artificial intelligence skills, as there are too few college graduates with the right data science background to work with increasingly sophisticated AI systems, he said.

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Within the next five to 10 years, though, AI technology will evolve from analysis of inputted data to supervised and reinforced learning. In other words, Schmidt said, workers with soft skills will soon be able to accomplish things that today require an advanced computer science degree.

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 “I would love everyone to become a PhD in computer science. It’s an unrealistic goal,” he said. “But a vast majority of ‘normal’ people will be able to program computer systems to do powerful things.”

\n\n\t\n"},{"id":"93","title":"\"Four Ways That Technology Can Reinvent Work In The Digital Age\"","date":"Apr 27, 2017","author":"Devin Cook","category":"News","image":"img/news/news_forbes.png","description":"\n\t\n\t\n\n

\"In the 1800s, it was machine-powered looms that replaced human hand weavers. Today, digital technology is disrupting work for working people — blue- and white-collar alike — in every occupation.\"\"In the 1800s, it was machine-powered looms that replaced human hand weavers. Today, digital technology is disrupting work for working people — blue- and white-collar alike — in every occupation.\" \"In the 1800s, it was machine-powered looms that replaced human hand weavers. Today, digital technology is disrupting work for working people — blue- and white-collar alike — in every occupation.\"

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Forbes recently published the following article authored by Devin Cook, Executive Producer for the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge:

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In the 1800s, it was machine-powered looms that replaced human hand weavers. Today, digital technology is disrupting work for working people — blue- and white-collar alike — in every occupation. Advances in fields such as artificial intelligence and robotics are making it increasingly possible for machines to perform not only physical but also cognitive tasks, according to a new report on IT and the U.S. workforce, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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But this story is probably not news to anyone anymore. Most of us are aware that as we enter this new Industrial Revolution, automation and digital devices are upending jobs, from cashiers to automotive assembly-line workers. Yet there is an upside, which we don’t hear as much about. While technology can jettison many existing jobs, it’s also constantly creating new jobs and new conveniences. Globally, career taxi drivers now compete for passengers with Lyft and Uber drivers, and new industries, like solar energy, employ more people than the coal industry. The grand challenge we face is how to accelerate the pace of job-creating innovation and the reinvention of work, while easing the transition for those whose jobs are lost in the process.

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At the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy we’ve given a lot of thought to the future of work. We believe that the way forward is not to preserve the jobs of the past, but to create new paths for more people to share in the prosperity that digital technology creates. Last year, to put these beliefs into action, we launched the first Inclusive Innovation Challenge to show that technology can create a future that works for more people—and that this is already underway. Our over $1 million awards program celebrates global organizations that are using technology to ensure greater economic opportunity. These organizations are addressing key questions such as: What skills will be needed in the future and how do workers find jobs once they are properly trained? How can more people around the globe ‘plug in’ to the digital economy?

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We have identified four basic areas where technology and jobs must intersect more effectively. These areas comprise the categories for our Inclusive Innovators:

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Job Creation & Income Growth: Simply put, we need to use technology to create new jobs that pay better wages. What might that look like? IIC 2016 Grand Prize Winner, Iora Health, has created an entirely new job category – health coach – for people who support patients directly and work as liaisons to medical professionals.  The model simultaneously drives down costs. Using a proprietary medical record technology platform to gauge patient progress and success, Iora is providing job opportunities that merge human compassion with data-driven management. This year the IIC is looking for more organizations like Iora that enable entirely new industries and jobs to flourish in the digital economy.

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Skills Development & Opportunity Matching: Tomorrow’s jobs will be very different from today’s, and it’s critical to prepare people to succeed in rapidly growing job categories like robotics, coding, AI, and renewable energy. Moreover, once people develop these skills, they have to connect with appropriate job opportunities. Another IIC Grand Prize Winner, Laboratoria, works specifically with low-income women in Latin America to train and match workers and jobs. Once the women master critical digital skills and are equipped as developers, they are matched with jobs in the tech sector. Digital boot-camps like Laboratoria, technology-driven approaches to scaling up education, hiring platforms that reduce unconscious bias, and labor markets that safeguard fair wages are just a few of the technology-driven ways working people can access and succeed in emerging work opportunities.

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Technology Access: In our increasingly digital economy, those with access to technology will prosper at the expense of those without access. Yet many people who are willing and able to work simply cannot “plug in” to the digital economy. According to a 2016 FCC study, 39 percent of Americans are unable to access any broadband Internet services; surely, a reason that rural America’s economy has been so hard hit. Globally, a Pew Research Center study of emerging or developing countries showed that only 54 percent of the population accessed the Internet at all.

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Innovative approaches are emerging that will empower people to engage more fully in the digital economy. For example, last year’s IIC Winner, Jana, allows people from around the world to download specific apps on their smart phones. As compensation, Jana provides Internet access via smartphones, getting millions of people and businesses online and on the job.

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Financial Inclusion: Often, even with a job and an income, a family’s financial stability can be tenuous.  According to the FDIC, 27 percent of American households do not have bank accounts or have inadequate services. As the economy incorporates more contract workers – fully 20-30% of the working age population in the U.S. and EU fall into this category – they usually have limited access to protections like unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance, according to a McKinsey study. Technology can change this, however. Last year’s IIC Winner, Destacame, developed an algorithm to allow individuals demonstrate their creditworthiness by using alternative data, gathered from credit-like services such as utilities, telecoms, and suppliers.

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Societies can’t go backward or stop the evolution and redefinition of work in the digital age. But we can encourage and support new mechanisms for job creation, skills development, technology access, and financial inclusion that will provide safety nets and paths for workers to adjust to the new realities ahead.

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Read the full article here.

\n\n\t\n"},{"id":"94","title":"\"We Need to Ask How We Can Make Economic Growth More Inclusive\"","date":"Apr 25, 2017","author":"Harvard Business Review","category":"News","image":"/img/news/news_hbr.png","description":"\n\t\n\t\n\n

\"Some questions have what I like to call a catalytic quality. That is, they do for creative problem-solving what catalysts do in chemical processes: they dissolve barriers and accelerate progress down more productive pathways.\"

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Harvard Business Review writes:

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\"Some questions have what I like to call a catalytic quality. That is, they do for creative problem-solving what catalysts do in chemical processes: they dissolve barriers and accelerate progress down more productive pathways. Take the question that has lately been put on the political table because of the prosperity bind facing so many mature economies. Innovation abounds (especially in technology) and new value is being created hand over fist — yet the resulting wealth gains go to the few, while the many wind up financially worse off. Case in point, even if everyone benefits from the freer flow of information allowed by the internet, information alone can’t pay your heating bill or buy a new transmission for your car. As the costs of things like phone calls and televisions have dropped, the cost for basic necessities like food and housing has soared.

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This vexing global challenge causes me to wonder, “What if the world’s innovators turned their sights on solving this problem? Could we make growth more inclusive?” That’s a huge question, and I hope it’s a catalytic one.\"

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Read the full article here.

\n\n\t\n"},{"id":"94","title":"IDE Director Erik Brynjolfsson Discusses the Inclusive Innovation Challenge and the \"Reality of Working with Robots\"","date":"Mar 24, 2017","author":"Bloomberg Technology","category":"Video","image":"img/news/news_bloomtech3.png","description":"\n\t\n\t\n\n

Brynjolfsson discuss the future of work, robots, and the Inclusive Innovation Challenge on Bloomberg Technology TV Live.  He believes we must \"encourage people to use robots in a more creative way to create shared prosperity and not just automate existing jobs.\"

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Brynjolfsson discuss the future of work, robots, and the Inclusive Innovation Challenge on Bloomberg Technology TV Live. He believes we must \"encourage people to use robots in a more creative way to create shared prosperity and not just automate existing jobs.\"

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View the video here.

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The MIT IDE believes that technology-driven solutions will empower people to participate more fully in our rapidly evolving digital economy, increasing incomes and ensuring employment opportunities.

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 22, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- \"Productivity is at record levels, innovation has never been faster, and yet at the same time, we have a falling median income and fewer jobs,\" warns Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE). \"People are falling behind because technology is advancing so fast and our skills and organizations aren't keeping up.\" It is, he says, \"the great paradox of our era.\" This trend will only intensify unless new solutions emerge.

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The MIT IDE believes that technology-driven solutions will empower people to participate more fully in our rapidly evolving digital economy, increasing incomes and ensuring employment opportunities. To reward and facilitate these inventive solutions during this unprecedented time of change, the MIT IDE launched the Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC). After a successful first year with nearly 300 applicants from across the globe, year two of the IIC has launched. Registration is now open at MITinclusiveinnovation.com.

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The IIC will award over $1 million to \"the superheroes of Inclusive Innovation\" − organizations that are using technology to reinvent the future of work and create a more equitable economy. For-profit and non-profit organizations of any size, age, type, and nationality are encouraged to apply.

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This year's award categories are:

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Over 100 Core Judges and an expert Champion Committee will select 16 Winners from the applying organizations.

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Applicants must register by June 7, 2017 and submit applications by June 21, 2017 when the Challenge closes. Winners will be announced during Boston's HUBweek (hubweekboston.com) on October 12, 2017 at a high-visibility event.

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The Challenge is being funded with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Joseph Eastin, ISN®, and Google.org.

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Get Involved! To participate as a judge, sponsor, or communications partner, or to nominate an organization, email iic@mit.edu. To register or sign up for updates, visit: MITinclusiveinnovation.com

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For more on the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, visit: ide.mit.edu

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Related Links

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http://www.mitsloan.mit.edu

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\"'I work hard, so that you will have the opportunity to do better than I have,' my grandpa used to tell my sisters and me. Millions of people around the world are like my grandpa. They work hard so that their children and grandchildren will enjoy more secure and prosperous futures than they themselves experienced.\"

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Working for a Better Future\n
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By harnessing digital technologies and channeling entrepreneurial energy from around the world, we can shape our economic destiny.

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By Devin Cook, Executive Producer, MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge

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I work hard, so that you will have the opportunity to do better than I have,” my grandpa used to tell my sisters and me. Millions of people around the world are like my grandpa. They work hard so that their children and grandchildren will enjoy more secure and prosperous futures than they themselves experienced.

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But work is quickly changing, owing in no small part to the impact of digital technology on business, the economy, and society.

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While digital technology has enabled wealth to grow more rapidly than ever before, not everyone is sharing equally in this prosperity. Working people across the world — from the middle to the lower tiers of the income bracket — struggle to envision a more prosperous future for themselves and their children. And rightfully so. We live in an age when wages haven’t risenfaster than inflation in over 40 years. One percent of the world’s population owns more than half the global wealth. Some research shows that 47% of jobs in America are at risk of being automated. Feeling optimistic about the future of work and prosperity seems impossible to many.

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But at MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE), we do feel optimistic, and we believe others should feel optimistic too. Why? Because reinventing the future of work to create shared prosperity is within our power.

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By harnessing digital technologies and channeling entrepreneurial energy from around the world, we can shape our economic destiny.

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This is the grand challenge that we are tackling at the IDE. How? Last year, we took action. We launched the first annual Inclusive Innovation Challenge, a $1 million awards program celebrating technology-driven solutions that are reinventing work to create shared prosperity.

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Creating this first-of-its-kind Challenge was an experiment of sorts. We wanted to find out which organizations are currently innovating to create jobs and increase incomes for working people. So we launched the IIC….and we were blown away by the results. We received almost 300 applications from 35 countries. We recruited over 80 judges to score applications and ultimately, we brought 24 Winners to the MIT Media Lab to celebrate their success.

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Our Winners exemplify the important innovations required today to reinvent the future of work to create shared prosperity. For instance:

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We awarded $1 million in prizes to these Inclusive Innovators and believe they are the heroes of the Second Machine Age: They are reinventing work to ensure more, if not all, people enjoy the prosperity, wealth, and quality of life that digital technology is creating.

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After the IIC Awards Celebration this September, we were energized, excited and optimistic about the power of technology to create jobs and increase incomes and we now feel an even greater need and urgency to our goal. This year’s U.S. election may have served as a wake-up call demonstrating the depth of the frustration, anger, and fear that many people are experiencing because they don’t have work or they feel financially insecure. People are looking for solutions to their personal economic challenges and see technology as the problem, not the solution.

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At MIT, we are indoctrinated in the power of technology to make the world a better place. But many working people — whether waiters in New York City, or former coal miners in Kentucky, or small-scale farmers in Kenya — may not hold this same belief because they have not personally experienced the economic benefits that technology promises.

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We don’t want the waiters, the factory workers, the small-scale farmers to turn away from technology. We need to invent new tools that benefit working people so that the appetite for investing in new technology continues, and excitement about technology can grow.

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On March 22 we will launch the second Inclusive Innovation Challenge to celebrate and accelerate Inclusive Innovations that are creating greater shared prosperity. The challenge we seek to address this year with the Inclusive Innovation Challenge is to reinvent the future of work. But we also have a new, and perhaps even more important call to action: We must spread a message to working people that technology can change their lives for the better. We must show working people that technology can and will work for them today and for their grandchildren in the future.

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View the Medium article here.

\n\n\t\n"},{"id":"97","title":"Meet the 2016 Winners","date":"Jan 28, 2017","author":"Author","category":"News","image":"img/news_awards.jpg","description":"\n\t\n\t\n\t\n\nThe 2016 MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Challange announced 24 Winners.\n\n\t\n","content":"\n\t\n\t\n\nThe 2016 MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Challenge announced 24 Winners. We presented five Awards, including one Grand Prize, in each of four categories: Skills, Matching, Humans + Machines, and New Models. Additionally, we recognized four Judges' Choice Award winners. View the 2016 winners here!\n\n\t\n"},{"id":"98","title":"\"High-tech sewing machines are bringing a century-old Massachusetts textile mill back to life\"","date":"Dec 21, 2016","author":"JASON MARGOLIS","category":"News","image":"img/news_3.png","description":"\n\t\n\t\n\n

WGBH reports on 99Degrees, the 2016 MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Challenge Grand Prize winner.

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WGBH News Writes:

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\"Folks at MIT were so impressed with 99Degrees’ business model that they awarded the startup the grand prize from the university’s Inclusive Innovation Challenge. That came along with $125,000.

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“The purpose of the Inclusive Innovation Challenge is to recognize and reward and encourage companies and individuals that are using technology to create more broadly shared prosperity. In other words, create wealth for the many, not just the few,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, which oversees the challenge.  

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In the case of 99Degrees, high-tech sewing machines are bringing back jobs to an old textile center. But is there an irony in all of this? Technology is creating jobs by eliminating others. Now, few can do the work of many.\"

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Read more about 99Degrees in the full article here.

\n\n\t\n"},{"id":"99","title":"\"MIT awards focus on tech that helps low, middle-income workers\"","date":"Sep 28, 2016","author":"Deirdre Fernandes","category":"News","image":"img/news_focus.jpg","description":"\n\t\n\t\n\nThe Boston Globe reports on the 2016 MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Competition.\n\n\t\n","content":"\n\t\n\t\n\n

The Boston Globe Reports:

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\"The innovation economy has technology firms vying to be the go-to app for sushi deliveries and dry-cleaning pickups. It has produced breakthrough drugs that cost a quarter-of-a-million dollars annually and opportunities for homeowners to rent out their downtown condos to vacationers.

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But can technology lift low-wage and middle-income workers and narrow the income equality gap?

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management on Tuesday awarded $1 million to companies that are trying to do just that, in an effort to highlight partnerships between man and machine and drive more innovation to under-served communities.
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The four winners of the school’s first Inclusive Innovation Competition were announced at an event Tuesday night as part of HUBweek, Boston’s weeklong arts, science, and technology festival. They are: 99Degrees Custom, an apparel manufacturer in Lawrence; Iora Health, a Boston-based health care company; Year Up, a skills training nonprofit in Boston; and Laboratoria, an organization that teaches women to code in South and Central America.\"

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Read the full article here.

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