Deval Patrick is taking a job as a visiting fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this spring, the school announced Tuesday.
The former governor will work out of MIT’s Innovation Initiative, focusing on the intersection of public policy and entrepreneurship.
The initiative was launched in 2013 to help students and faculty “design, build, test, prototype, hack, scale up, and accelerate the transformation of academic ideas into practical innovations through ventures, partnerships and networks,” according to its official charge.
Patrick, who left office last week, is on vacation and was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
But in a written statement, he said “innovation is the fuel of our economy” and lauded the state’s “inventors and innovators, many of whom have come out of MIT” for helping “to make the Commonwealth a leader in many industries.”
Patrick, a lawyer, has no technical expertise, but he has long championed the state’s high-technology sector.
In his first campaign for governor, he called innovation the state’s calling card, quipping that Massachusetts has been ahead of the curve since the days of the whaling industry.
One of his proudest achievements in office was a 10-year, $1 billion life sciences initiative designed to promote the biotechnology and medical device industries in the state.
Patrick will be the Innovation Initiative’s first fellow, starting work next month and remaining in place through the end of the spring semester in May. The initiative said Patrick may stay in place for the fall semester.
MIT will pay Patrick a stipend but declined to detail the amount.
The appointment is not a surprise. In November, while he was still in office, Patrick filed a disclosure form with the State Ethics Commission revealing that MIT had approached him about the position.
Elected officials often land in academia after leaving office. Former Boston mayors Kevin H. White and Thomas M. Menino both took jobs at Boston University.
But Patrick’s stay in academia is expected to be a short one. Near the end of his time in office, he frequently spoke of his eagerness to rejoin the private sector, which he said he missed “especially on payday.”
MIT officials said nothing will prevent the former governor from pursuing other opportunities while he serves as a fellow.
L. Rafael Reif, MIT’s president, praised Patrick in a statement for taking the time as governor “to educate himself about how fundamental science produces world-changing technologies” and said the school is “delighted that he will join us.”
Fiona Murray, codirector of the Innovation Initiative, said “enlightened government” can play a critical role in the innovation economy.
“There is one view that says innovation is most successful and effective when government gets out of the way,” she said. But the research, she said, suggests “having the right kinds of policies and programs in place to enable people to actually be effective innovators and entrepreneurs really matters.”
Murray said tax policy that favors investment in start-up firms, laws banning noncompete agreements and allowing workers to hop from firm to firm, patent policy, and visa rules for foreign workers can all play a role.
Murray said Patrick will be a “thought partner” for the initiative, helping to develop an innovation policy agenda.
The former governor will make regular appearances at campus events, including seminars with students and faculty focused on a wide range of issues, including diversity in the innovation economy.
He will also have formal office hours, open to faculty and students.
Patrick visited MIT several times as governor, delivering an economic policy address at the school and speaking at symposiums on the life sciences and the environment. In a commencement address in 2009, he told the school’s graduates “your ideas and contributions will defy prediction.”