Building a 21st-century American Economy

The role of Tough Tech in Ensuring Shared, Sustainable Prosperity

By Katie Rae
CEO & Managing Partner,
The Engine

Nearly four years ago, we founded The Engine alongside MIT because we recognized the need for new models to launch transformative breakthroughs out of the labs and on to the path of commercialization. Many of these breakthroughs hold the potential to impact our most fundamental global challenges such as climate change, human health, and the transition to a 21st-century economy that creates shared prosperity and sustainability for all.

Katie serves as the CEO & Managing Partner of The Engine. She also serves as a Board Member at Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Form Energy, Via Separations, WoHo, and Lilac Solutions. Katie has advised hundreds of founders and invested in over 100 companies. Key investments include Pillpack (acquired by Amazon for $1 billion), Bevi, GrabCad, Synack, Zagster, NBD Nano, Neurala and Amino. She holds an MBA from Yale and BA in Biology from Oberlin College.

Addressing the world’s toughest challenges is a complex systems problem, and private capital is just one piece of the solution. Realizing the full impact of Tough Tech innovation requires public and private collaboration to go from breakthrough technology to commercialization to ethical, widespread impact on our economies and societies.

Earlier this year we teamed up with the former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and his team at the Harvard Kennedy Belfer Center in addition to the Day One Project to think about how we could move the needle on Tough Tech Innovation at the policy level. Over the course of several months, countless conversations, and dozens of ideas, we identified several key areas that we feel are critical to making progress.

Today we are excited to share our Tough Tech Mandate, which states our joint position on why the prioritization of Tough Tech Innovation at the government level is so critical at this moment. We wrote this as a starting point and framework for continued conversations. We hope these conversations evolve as both sides of the aisle come together in agreement that strong US leadership is essential to move us into a 21st century global economy with shared, sustainable prosperity for all.

There are a number of Tough Tech and other related policy recommendations that our colleagues at the Day One Project have coordinated, which can be found at:

I hope you join my own readiness to work towards tackling common challenges as a country, and I look forward to your feedback and ideas on how we can bring the whole Tough Tech ecosystem together with more support and more partnership across all sectors and party lines. In the interest of the US economy, our international leadership, and the problems we as a globe face, now is the time to act.

Katie Rae
CEO & Managing Partner, The Engine




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The Engine

The Engine

Built by MIT, we help founders create the next generation of world-changing companies. Visit us at

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