Carnegie Mellon University

Innovation Fellows Program

The Innovation Fellows Program has the goal of accelerating the process of commercializing university research. It aims to foster entrepreneurship among graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research assistants — the research personnel who work directly with faculty investigators to conduct scientific experiments, solve problems and innovate. The contributions of such individuals are crucial for moving faculty research toward commercialization; thus, this program aligns well with a major goal of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University: encouraging the successful commercialization of university research to benefit our communities. 

To develop the Innovation Fellows Program, the Swartz Center team works with all of the college deans to determine a fair process of selecting Innovation Fellows from all colleges.

Innovation Fellows Program Eligibility:

  • The fellowship is open to current graduate and Ph.D. students or post docs at Carnegie Mellon University. Candidates from all CMU schools and colleges are encouraged to apply.
  • If not a U.S. citizen, the Fellow needs to be on a visa appropriate for a student or CMU employee for the duration of the fellowship (typically 12 months).  
  • The Fellow needs to be working on university research at CMU with a faculty PI or advisor and a $50k match must be provided (match can be fulfilled through grants or department budget, a detailed budget for how the matching funds will be spent must be submitted and eligibility for expenses incurred are specific to the funding source).
  • The Fellow must also submit a detailed budget for how the $50k of Fellowship funds will be spent. The intent of the Fellowship program funding is to support the Fellow’s tuition, stipend, salaries & benefits (if post doc) and other qualified expenses for their course of study while they work on commercializing university research. For questions please contact Melanie Simko, Program Manager,

Components of the Innovation Fellows Program include:

  • $50K contribution from the Swartz Center with a $50K match from another source
  • Selection Committee consisting of Swartz Center staff Dave Mawhinney, Kit Needham and Melanie Simko, Reed McManigle from the Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation, and CMU deans/appointees 
  • Specialized cohort activities/content
  • Dedicated mentoring by CMU entrepreneurs in residence, alumni and partners
  • Commitment from each fellow to join the venture/company as a full-time founder/employee