MIT has put $35m into The Engine's second fund – up from its $25m commitment to the first fund – and has been joined by Harvard as a new LP.

The Engine, the venture firm and tough tech incubator formed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), yesterday raised $230m for its second fund from MIT and Harvard University.

MIT put in $35m, having contributed $25m to the $205m first fund closed in 2017, and its capital will be released over time as the fund invests. Harvard University is a new limited partner for The Engine, which backed several Harvard spinouts through the first fund.

The Engine was launched in 2016, following an op-ed by MIT president L. Rafael Reif for the Washington Post the previous year.

Its 27-strong portfolio consists of companies tackling challenges such as fusion energy, climate change, quantum computing, lithium extraction and rapid diagnostics of infectious diseases.

Several of The Engine’s companies have turned their attention to helping solve the covid-19 crisis, such as Vaxess Technologies and E25Bio.

Reif said: “We launched The Engine to help young companies focused on tough tech challenges that have the potential for enormous societal impact.

“Our aim was to provide them with a new model of sustained assistance and an ecosystem of talent, expertise, and support to speed their progress, so we are truly thrilled that Harvard has joined us in this mission.”

The firm’s most recent investment was a $4.5m seed round for WoHo, a US-based developer of a unified platform that integrates architecture, engineering and construction to design and build affordable, sustainable housing.

WoHo was co-founded by MIT and Georgia Tech faculty as well as, most notably, Israel Ruiz, the former treasurer of MIT and the founding chairman of The Engine who stepped down earlier this month to be replaced by Sue Siegel.

The Engine’s second fund will look to double down on the regional ecosystem and aim to cement Boston’s status as a global hub for tough tech.

It is also in the process of expanding its real estate footprint and will be able to accommodate as many as 100 companies and 1,000 staff in a building boasting labs, office and maker space, and fabrication facilities by 2022.

Beyond its capital commitment, MIT also supports The Engine’s alignment on diversity and inclusion. Indeed, the firm’s 24-strong team is primarily made up of women and also features several leaders from a minority background.

The team is led by chief executive and managing partner Katie Rae, who said: “MIT was first to acknowledge that tough tech startups have largely been underfunded and underserved, and we continue to be incredibly grateful for MIT’s vision and its ongoing support of our mission to bring these innovations to the world.”

To learn more about the MIT ecosystem, listen to our podcast episode with Lesley Millar-Nicholson, director of the institute’s Technology Licensing Office.