RLE Translational Fellows Program
Venture Mentoring Service
MIT Innovation Initiative

Check back soon for deadline for the submission for the 2016–2017 academic year. 

The Translational Fellows Program (TFP) is a competitive, nomination-based, year-long postdoc program that funds its fellows for a-day-a-week, providing them the opportunity to pursue commercialization of a technology that originated in MIT research. The program provides mentoring resources, integrated conflict-of-interest (COI) management and other support to help contain risk and maximize the opportunity to create a new venture. The TFP empowers postdocs to lead commercialization planning efforts, facilitating the launch of a successful commercial venture. The TFP aligns resources available through MIT’s rich entrepreneurial ecosystem to bridge the gap in the chain of research-based innovation and accelerate the pace of technology translation, thus increasing the impact of MIT’s research-derived innovations.

This program, entering its fourth year, builds on the RLE TFP which was introduced as a seed program in 2013.

Specific goals and expectations of the fellows:

  • Studying the commercial opportunity and potential markets of a specific body of IP generated through research
  • Learning how to perform customer discovery, customer validation and the creation of a viable business model
  • Understanding best path to market and timelines involved
  • Assess the level of technical risk and the path to a “working” prototype
  • Document & share lessons learned
  • Engaging with a VMS mentor team
  • Connecting with the entrepreneurship ecosystem at MIT (such as ILP, Martin Trust Center)
  • Engaging the TLO on options for licensing the technology
  • Understand range of funding sources and their roles/optimal timing

As the time of incorporation approaches, plans are developed to assure smooth transitions and minimize any exposure to COI issues.

To Qualify:

Applicants must:

  • Be a current postdoctoral associate at MIT in one of the affiliated departments/labs
  • Have support of their research advisor
  • Have a project that is primed for commercialization
  • Be a significant contributor to the technology proposed
  • Be highly motivated and have a strong interest in leading entrepreneurial activities
  • Commit to a 20% (a-day-a-week) effort

Application and Selection Process:

The TFP application has two components:

  1. Nomination Letter:
    Applicants (postdoctoral associates) and their projects must be nominated by their research advisor via a nomination letter. It is expected that the research advisor will address the selection criteria points (below) in the letter.
  2. Presentation:
    The postdoctoral applicant must provide a PowerPoint presentation that provides an explanation of the idea/technology, addresses the selection criteria, and includes information about the applicant and why they are the right person to take this idea to market. Slide guidelines >>

Selection Criteria:

Applications will be reviewed by the TFP Selection Committee which is comprised of MIT faculty, alumni and industry experts. Postdocs and their venture proposals are evaluated on the following:

  • Support of the research advisor
  • MIT research-derived technology
  • Expectation of commercialization timeline, market potential and impact
  • Genuine interest in exploring commercialization
  • Alignment of research group
  • Presentation
  • Interested, mature, competent & engaged postdoc
  • Absence of competing mechanisms for commercializing IP