The American Way To Do Business – from Calum Davidson at MIT, Boston

Doing business the American way was the thread that ran through our last day at MIT, with a focus on entrepreneurship through the Sloan School of Management, and visits to an Energy Start up companies in the leafy suburbs of Cambridge MA. Ambri, a spin out from MIT developing utility scale Liquid Metal Batteries was particularly fascinating. Packed full of young PhD’s and their older mentors, computer workstations covered with sports and music stickers, yet through a glass door, complex engineering labs, prototype systems and a huge lathe that delighted our engineers.

Ambri’s plan to develop utility scale cheap battery storage for the renewable market certainly interested our group, and its ability to link to tidal generation in particular had all the folk from Orkney grabbing business cards and product brochures. I was struck by the spin out experience from MIT, as it is backed by some big names in the tech world, and the story of how they caught the interest of one of the worlds richest men is fascinating.

MIT have a policy of “open courseware” as all their lecture notes and presentations for all courses are on-line, and free to view and download to anyone in the world. A certain Mr Bill Gates decided one day to brush up on his Chemistry skills, and started to study an on-line course run by Professor Donald Sadoway, the man behind the Liquid Metal Battery. So taken was he by the course, Bill contacted the Prof, struck up a relationship and invested in his company!

It could only happen at MIT.

Calum Davidson, Director, Energy and Low Carbon , HIE.

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