Svafa Gronfeldt

2023 Award Recipient


Svafa Grönfeldt, Ph.D., is a Professor of the Practice at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a founding member and Faculty Director of MITdesignX, an academic program in the MIT Morningside Academy for Design dedicated to design innovation and entrepreneurship. The program is MIT’s newest innovation accelerator and is designed to support new pioneering ventures created at MIT. She is also a co-founder of The MET fund, a Cambridge-based seed investment fund providing early seed funding to qualified MITdesignX startups. 

Before joining MIT, Dr. Grönfeldt was a member of a team that created and scaled two global life science companies, Actavis and Alvogen, Inc., where she served as Chief Organizational Development Officer and later as Deputy CEO. She is a former president of Reykjavik University, where she also previously taught as an associate professor of business. 

Dr. Grönfeldt serves as a member of the board of directors of three publicly listed companies on the Nasdaq OMX and the Amsterdam Stock Exchange: Össur, Marel, and Icelandair. She has also served on the Florida Tech Board of Trustees since 2017.

Dr. Grönfeldt holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, an M.S. in Technical and Professional Communications from Florida Tech, and a B.A. in Political Science and Mass Media from the University of Iceland. She received the Order of the Falcon Medal of Honor awarded by the President of the Republic of Iceland in 2008, and she was the 2010 Outstanding Alumni Award Winner from Florida Tech’s College of Psychology and Liberal Arts.

Dr. Grönfeldt is co-author of Service Leadership: The Quest for Competitive Advantage with Dr. Judy Strother. Dr. Strother was Svafa’s mentor and thesis advisor during her time at Florida Tech and, according to Svafa, was very influential in shaping her career.

Applying the lens of design to complex problems is a focal point of her work. Driven to understand the dynamic relationship between people and their environment, Dr. Grönfeldt combines her academic, entrepreneurial, and executive careers with a lifelong passion for design to develop ideas and new enterprises through design innovation and the development of design-based entrepreneurship theory and methods.  


University of Iceland - B.A. in Political Science and Mass Media

Florida Tech - M.S. in Technical and Professional Communications

London School of Economics - Ph.D.