Elaine Chen named as Director of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center and Cummings Family Professor of the Practice in Entrepreneurship

A skilled educator, entrepreneur, and technologist, Elaine will strengthen TEC’s mission to foster the Tufts community’s entrepreneurial spirit, whether they aspire to start their own ventures or cultivate innovation within global corporations.

After a comprehensive international search, the Tufts School of Engineering and the Tufts Gordon Institute are pleased to announce the appointment of Elaine Chen as the Director of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center (TEC) and the Cummings Family Professor of the Practice in Entrepreneurship. Elaine will assume her roles effective immediately.

“Given how central entrepreneurism is to our university strategy, and how important it is to society to harness our technologies to do good in the world, Elaine brings great strength to our faculty,” said Jianmin Qu, Dean of Tufts University’s School of Engineering and Karol Family Professor. “With her entrepreneurial bias to action, I look forward to seeing her deepen, broaden and accelerate, our culture of innovation and entrepreneurism across the university.”

Elaine leading a session

An educator, entrepreneur, and technologist, Elaine comes to Tufts as the founder and managing director of ConceptSpring, a corporate innovation and entrepreneurship consulting firm that helps leaders build entrepreneurial organizations via innovation consulting and custom training programs. Working with corporations, non-profits, and government agencies around the globe, her clients span sectors including healthcare IT, health and wellness, industrial automation and robotics, consumer electronics, and more.

In tandem with leading ConceptSpring, Elaine was a senior lecturer and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship for nearly a decade. She also served as a board director for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge since 2015. In these roles, Elaine helped aspiring entrepreneurs at all stages of their educational and professional journeys succeed by designing and teaching academic courses, programs, workshops, and accelerators, all while providing individual coaching to student entrepreneurs.

Elaine teaching

Having earned both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Elaine began her career as a mechanical and firmware engineer at EXOS, Inc., developing robotic systems that provide a sense of touch,  including PC gaming joysticks and surgical simulation systems. She has served as a vice president of engineering or product management at six companies, including Rethink Robotics and SensAble Technologies. In nearly three decades of building new ventures in startup, corporate, and non-profit settings, Elaine has developed a deep passion for giving back to the entrepreneurial community by fueling their innovative spirit.

 “Tufts’ breadth of disciplines, from arts and science, engineering, and the healthcare professions to civic engagement and diplomacy, creates unparalleled potential for students to change the world,” said Elaine. “I am humbled and honored to join the Tufts community to support students in accelerating their progress by embracing an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset.”

The Cummings Family Professor of the Practice in Entrepreneurship was created by William S. and Joyce Cummings in 1998 to support the study of entrepreneurship at Tufts University. As Tufts Gordon Institute, home to the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, developed its strong programming in entrepreneurship and innovation, the professorship moved to the School of Engineering in 2018.

“At the Center, we believe that entrepreneurship is not simply about starting companies. It encompasses creative thinking for those who develop entrepreneurial ideas whether at large corporations, nonprofits, or in aiding strategic planning," said Chuck Auster, chairman of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center’s Advisory Board and partner at Runtide Capital. "In meeting with Elaine, I was struck by her ability to create a winning strategy and see it through to execution. With Elaine, we will have a vibrant leader who is well positioned to launch the next stage of our growth.”

Elaine joins the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center during an exciting phase of continued expansion as the Center broadens its academic and extracurricular programming, establishing TEC as the leading resource for Tufts students and alumni developing their entrepreneurial skillsets and mindsets. The Center’s mission to foster the Tufts community’s entrepreneurial spirit, whether they aspire to start their own ventures or cultivate innovation within global corporations, will be strengthened by Elaine’s assumption of her roles within the Center.

 “It will be a joy to have Elaine join our team at Tufts as we continue to build a worldwide community of transformative leaders, with heart,” said Kevin Oye, executive director of Tufts Gordon Institute. “With her deep experiences as an innovative and inspiring entrepreneur, engineer, and educator, she will be a wonderful partner and catalyst as we enable every member of the Tufts community, from faculty, to staff, to students, to alumni, to tap their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to take actions to make this a better world.”


Follow Elaine on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Learn more about the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center.

Learn more about ConceptSpring.