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An MIT professor’s quest to solve the world’s battery needs

Yet-Ming Chiang has founded six companies, including three battery startups. Two of the companies (one was involved in batteries and the other 3D printing) have gone on to become “unicorns,” with valuations over $1 billion. That in and of itself would be a rare feat for any entrepreneur, but Chiang has done it while keeping his day job as a material-sciences professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Chiang is an “MIT lifer” as he puts it, showing me his MIT class ring. He studied there and then became a professor there. He met his wife at MIT, some of his best friends work at MIT, and he started a few of his companies with MIT colleagues.

In the battery space, Chiang founded A123 in 2001 with the goal of making lithium-ion batteries for electric cars. Then in 2010, he founded 24M, which aimed to redevelop the manufacturing process of lithium-ion batteries and make it cheaper. In 2017, he founded Form Energy with the goal of building technologies, including batteries, that could store energy for weeks and months.

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