Innovation Leadership Fellows

Translating Research, Engaging the Private Sector, Commercializing Technology: IOWA INNOVATION LEADERSHIP Fellowship


The IOWA INNOVATION LEADERSHIP Fellows program invites select trainees (graduate students, post docs, residents, fellows, and medical students) to engage with industry leaders, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and UI leadership throughout the academic year.


Translating ideas and innovations generated in research laboratories, clinical settings or through the pursuit of academic excellence is a complicated and complex endeavor. Healthcare innovation is often a long and winding road fraught with failed attempts and frequent pivots. Whether you are inspired to solve unmet needs in healthcare, wish to apply your skills to support an inventor trying to bring a product to market, make industry connections or wish to be an ambassador to your peers and colleagues interested in innovation, selected Fellows will play a vital role in the development of the Iowa Med-tech Innovation ecosystem.


The IOWA INNOVATION LEADERSHIP Fellows program introduces University of Iowa graduate trainees to the policies, programs, resources, and factors that influence addressing societies unmet needs. Accepted applicants will participate in a 2-day bootcamp before each semester with experienced entrepreneurs, renowned industry experts, venture capitalists, UI faculty and alums who have licensed technology or created and scaled successful companies. Exclusive follow up engagement opportunities will occur throughout the academic year.

Fellowship objectives:


  • Understanding available resources for faculty/trainees pursuing company formation or licensing of an invention.
  • Balancing an Academic Career – how to pursue solving an unmet need or apply your talents to someone else’s idea while managing expectations and responsibilities
  • Understanding Intellectual Property and licensing – what is Tech Transfer, how they help, who is the University of Iowa Research Foundation and how do you engage?
  • Starting a Company – Good and bad examples -Why seeking people who may ‘kill’ your idea is essential to success
  • Wisdom direct from Successful Entrepreneurs – learn from case studies of failure and success from noted entrepreneurial journeys
  • Financing & Venture Capital – gain exposure and perspective on how Venture Capitalists consider University created IP, founders, and start-up companies
  • Didactic training throughout the year based on proven biodesign principles
  • Frequent social hours with entrepreneurial faculty, external industry advisors and Fellowship alumni


The IOWA INNOVATION LEADERSHIP Fellows program kicks off at lunchtime Thursday, August 17, with informational sessions. A dinner social that evening allows the Fellows to interact with each other, University leadership, alumni, and guests. The program resumes Friday morning with additional informational sessions, with the formal program concluding Friday afternoon, August 18.


12 med-tech focused Fellows will be selected for the second cohort. Fellows will receive a stipend of $1,500 for their participation during the academic year. Participants will be required to:


-Attend the two-day boot camps in August and January

-Serve on the Fellow’s Advisory Council to the University of Iowa Chief Innovation Officer

-Act as Ambassador for faculty and staff interested in pursuing translation of their discoveries

-Enjoy exclusive invitations to learn from visiting entrepreneurs, alumni, and industry executives

-Fellows can apply for up to $10,000 in GAP funding to pursue solving an unmet need

-Fellows must commit a minimum of 4-5 hours per month besides the boot camps


IOWA INNOVATION LEADERSHIP Fellows will be invited to participate in exclusive events and activities throughout the year supporting their engagement as innovation ambassadors. Events will host private sector businesspeople, alumni, faculty/staff and UI leadership focused on med-tech commercialization. In addition, Fellows with ideas for products or solutions can apply for a special grant in the Spring of 2024 to pursue developing a product or solution.


TO APPLY: Click on the "Apply Now" button and fill out the webform. You will be asked to explain why you wish to participate and highlight any pertinent background or experiences; prior business or start-up experience is not required. Applications will be considered until July 15, 2023.  Finalists will be interviewed by Iowa’s Innovation team.


The IOWA INNOVATION LEADERSHIP Fellowship is sponsored by the UI’s Chief Innovation Officer, Jon Darsee. The Chief Innovation Officer oversees a variety of programs and activities to support UI faculty and staff looking to explore the commercial potential of ideas and innovations arising from their work at the University. Some of the programs and resources Fellows will be exposed to include UI Ventures, IOWA MADE, Protostudios, UIRF (Tech Transfer), the TRI, the UI Research Park, Chief Innovation Officer Entrepreneurs in Residence and a broad network of industry execs, successful med-tech entrepreneurs, and Venture Capitalists.