Teaching Plan | HBS Case Collection | November 2012

The Langer Lab: Commercializing Science (TP)

by Vicki L. Sato and Annelena Lobb

Abstract

The Langer Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was a unique operation. Its head, Robert Langer, had always focused on selecting ideas to research that would have the greatest positive impact for humanity, and he encouraged an unusual multidisciplinary approach at the lab, fostering collaboration between scientists from many diverse backgrounds. The approach led to exciting discoveries and innovations at the Langer Lab. Besides his intelligence, Langer's personality—expansive, magnanimous, and intensely curious—enticed many potential applicants. The lab also had a very strong working relationship with MIT's Technology Licensing Office, which wrote patents for all of the innovations created at the university. What lessons can be drawn from the Langer Lab about the management of research groups? How did the Langer Lab sustain innovation? Could the Langer Lab's processes successfully be imitated elsewhere?

Keywords: computers; industry evolution; entrepreneurship; Intellectual capital; patents; R&D; Technology Transfer; Patents; Research and Development; Massachusetts;

Citation:

Sato, Vicki L., and Annelena Lobb. "The Langer Lab: Commercializing Science (TP)." Harvard Business School Teaching Plan 613-014, November 2012.