The Birla Institute of Technology was established in 1955 at Mesra, Ranchi, Jharkhand by the philanthropist and industrialist B M Birla. The institute was affiliated to Patna University until 1960 and then to Ranchi University. BIT was declared a deemed university in 1986 under section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 under notification No. F. 9-2/83-U.3 August 28, 1986.
BIT was the first institute in India to establish a department of space engineering and rocketry, in 1964. BIT introduced the concept of Small Industries Entrepreneurs' Park and became the first institute in the country not just to provide 'nursery sheds' and central designing and workshop facilities to young entrepreneurs, but also to facilitate the initial project funding.
Small Industries Research and Development Organization (SIRDO) was set up in 1970 as a launching pad for small manufacturing enterprises run by technical graduates of BIT. Companies born from this concept include Meditron, Alcast etc. This idea was appreciated by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and spread to other leading institutes of India such as IITs by the Government as a concept of Science and Technological Entrepreneurs Park (STEP). The first STEP was approved and located in BIT Mesra. The entrepreneurship development cell was founded in 2007 and is run by the students. To add financial strength to this effort, BIT has set up SIDBI Center for Innovation and Incubation (SCII) by an arrangement with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to provide a limited period of time to new entrepreneurs, start up companies, and technology based organisations, to facilitate Research and Development operations in areas of interest with the faculty of the institute.
BIT established an Offshore Centre in Bahrain in the year 2000. It was accorded a supercomputer (PARAM 10000) at the core of its IT infrastructure.