Brad Feld’s Latest Investment: Students

5/22/09

Yet another Boston-area innovation institution has been hit by the recession: the summer internship. Jackie Wilbur, the director of the Career Development Office at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, says that in this year’s tight job market, many local startups that would ordinarily take on Sloan students as summer interns simply can’t afford it. Enter Brad Feld.

A 1988 graduate of Sloan and co-founder of the Foundry Group, a Boulder, CO-based venture capital firm, Feld was looking to make a gift to his alma mater that would nurture the climate of entrepreneurship at the school. “With the current economic downturn,” says Feld, “there was a lot of interest in helping subsidize some of these internships.” So part of a donation Feld recently sent to the school will be used to fund summer internships for six first-year Sloan MBA students at Boston-area startups. The program pays half of the students’ $1,000 weekly salary, with the companies themselves putting up the rest.

Rajiv Bhatia, one of the beneficiaries of the program, sees distinct advantages in working for a startup. “You’re most likely working directly with the senior management. Your impact is immediately felt and immediately seen.”

On June 8, Bhatia will join the team at QDVision, an MIT spinout located in Watertown, MA. QDVision specializes in the commercialization of quantum dots, nanoscopic semiconductors that can be used to construct an optic that makes the light from energy-efficient LED lamps resemble the eye-pleasing wavelengths of an incandescent bulb. The company recently partnered with Nexxus Lighting (NASDAQ: NEXS) to release a lamp combining Nexxus’ LED lighting platform with the QDVision optic. Bhatia will assist the company in devising further commercial applications for quantum dot technology.

“For anyone interested in entrepreneurship, a summer internship is a great way to dive in,” says Feld. “And—for the companies—it’s a fantastic source of highly qualified and smart folks that can work on projects that might otherwise never be gotten to.”

Roxanne is an intern in Xconomy's Boston office. You can reach her at rpalmer@xconomy.com. Follow @

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