Carnegie Mellon University

Innovation Commercialization Fellows Program

The Innovation Commercialization Fellows (ICF) 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. 

The ICF program provides each Fellow with $50K in tuition, stipend or salary and benefit support with a $50K required match from another source. 

Innovation Commercialization Fellows | By the Numbers
Since 2015 (updated 7/2023): 
45 Fellowships awarded      
> 46M in follow on funding to ICF startups
11 startups accepted to accelerator programs
18 Phase 1 and 8 Phase 2 SBIR/STTR grants received by ICF startups
80% of ICF startups are still active 
27% of Fellows from STEM underrepresented minority groups 

Innovation Commercialization Fellows Program Eligibility:

  • The fellowship is open to current graduate and Ph.D. students, post docs and research assistants 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 a startup based 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). This funding is intended to support commercialization efforts, not continued research.
  • 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 Commercialization 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