IGE graduate STEM awards fostering entrepreneurship

In the spirit of innovation, the U.S. National Science Foundation is on a visionary journey to expand and support the landscape of graduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics education that is rooted in open participation and entrepreneurship. NSF has dedicated itself to broadening participation in graduate education STEM entrepreneurship, ensuring that the graduate STEM community is not merely a participant in the future, but its architect.

The following are three main areas of focus and respective project examples under the Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) program and their outcomes:


1. Pathways to entrepreneurship - patent capstone projects.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

This area of focus in graduate STEM education not only bridges the gap between academic research and market innovation but also empowers Ph.D. candidates to patent and commercialize their inventions. It's a crucial investment in the future of STEM, fostering an ecosystem where groundbreaking research directly translates into societal benefits and economic growth, thereby nurturing a new generation of scientists as entrepreneurs.

For example, NSF is supporting Pathways to Entrepreneurship (PAtENT) doctoral projects at the University of North Carolina which represents a transformative step in graduate STEM entrepreneurship. The PAtENT program stands as a beacon of innovation, challenging the conventional paradigms of STEM doctoral programs. By integrating entrepreneurship into the fabric of doctoral education, PAtENT is crafting a new generation of STEM leaders who are not just scholars but pioneers ready to venture beyond the academic horizon and make innovative contributions. More information is included in the project website.


2. Graduate STEM entrepreneurial leadership development.

University of Connecticut.

This initiative is a testament to NSF's commitment to molding bold STEM leaders. Through graduate entrepreneurial training, NSF is not just educating, it's empowering students with the skills to lead, innovate and disrupt industries with groundbreaking solutions.

For example, NSF is supporting a pioneering effort in graduate STEM entrepreneurial leadership development at the University of Connecticut that aims to equip STEM graduate students with the entrepreneurial skills and leadership qualities necessary to transform innovative ideas into impactful ventures. This initiative signifies a strategic move towards fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within STEM fields, preparing the next generation of leaders to navigate the challenges of the modern world with confidence and creativity. The project website describes the initiative in more detail.


3. Framework for graduate STEM entrepreneurial research and invention.

University of Utah.

NSF is revolutionizing how research is approached, developed and commercialized with an award to the Lean Canvas for Invention program at the University of Utah. This pioneering initiative propels graduate STEM entrepreneurship to new heights. By integrating the Lean startup methodology with academic invention, this program empowers students to transform their innovative research into viable, market-ready solutions, fostering a generation of entrepreneurs equipped to tackle the world's most pressing challenges with agility and insight. This framework is not merely a tool but a catalyst, sparking creativity, fostering teamwork and nurturing a relentless pursuit of innovation among graduate students. Visit the project website for more information on the Lean Canvas for Invention framework.



Each of these initiatives represents a thread in the broader tapestry of NSF's vision for the future of graduate STEM education. It's a future where entrepreneurship and innovation are not electives but core components of graduate STEM education. By supporting these initiatives, NSF is not just funding projects; it is investing in the potential of every graduate STEM student to be a trailblazer in their field, an entrepreneur in their right, and a leader in the global quest for knowledge and innovation.

NSF's commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship is a call to the graduate STEM community to embrace risk, innovate relentlessly and lead boldly. It's an invitation to join in the creation of a future where STEM is not just about understanding the world but about changing it.

Since its inception, the IGE program has funded 94 projects across 84 institutions in 35 states and the District of Columbia, including in 11 states within the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, 27 non-research-intensive institutions and 17 minority-serving institutions.