Entrepreneurship and commercialization are avenues through which academic and research excellence are translated into societal and economic impact to benefit our local and global communities. As such, McMaster recognizes that these activities are an important part of the academic excellence continuum and key to establishing a global reputation in teaching, research and innovation. McMaster currently ranks at the top of the Times Higher Education Industry metric, signaling our strength in research and innovation. There is tremendous opportunity to further leverage this strength to enhance McMaster’s position as a leading entrepreneurial university.
In response, McMaster has established the title Professor Entrepreneur, to recognize and support excellence in entrepreneurship and commercialization. In keeping with McMaster’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, excellence in entrepreneurship and commercialization is understood in the broadest and most inclusive possible terms.
Professor Entrepreneur is a competitive fellowship supported by the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) and Vice-President Research to provide faculty members committed to technology/knowledge translation with the time and resources to live, learn, and pursue an entrepreneurial venture to amplify the impact of their research.
Applicants must be full-time McMaster faculty who have obtained the endorsement of their department chair or equivalent (see below).
The fellowships (three during the pilot) are awarded for a period of one year, and may be offered for an additional year for buyout at the discounted academic rate based on planned milestones determined during the fellowship and evaluated by the selection panel. The fellowship may be held by a faculty member only once in a 10-year period at McMaster.
Each Professor Entrepreneur will be supported with buyout of teaching of one (one-term) course per year, or equivalent release of duty as determined by their department chairs and faculty deans. Additionally, these fellows will be supported with quarterly mentorship from entrepreneurs, investors, and business development experts.
This program targets faculty who have been working closely with the McMaster Industry Liaison Office (MILO) for intellectual property (IP) filing, licensing, and other entrepreneurial activities. Except in exceptional cases, applicants should be founders of incorporated ventures that is founded based on McMaster IP that has been disclosed to MILO. Applicants must be substantially involved in their venture; however, applicants do not need to be the lead entrepreneur. Applications from individuals that are part of a diverse team, include a student/postdoc co-founder, or have engaged a non-McMaster business lead person are highly encouraged.
Applicants must fill out a short-answer online application to determine program eligibility and fit and to verify the approval of their department chair or equivalent (registration). The applicants are encouraged to discuss the implication of this fellowship on their teaching assignment upon return with their department chairs.
Eligible applicants will deliver a 5-minute investor-style pitch, followed by a 2-minute justification on how this fellowship will be transformative to the success of their venture and realizing their research impact (pitch). This presentation will be followed by a 10-minute discussion period during the pitch day.
The 5-minute pitches should cover the problem or opportunity, competing solutions, the proposed solution, the value proposition, business model, and the applicant and team.
The 2-minute justification will include the applicant’s plan during the fellowship period and how this plan will help with the success of their venture.
The selection panel is chaired by the Vice-President, Research or delegate and is comprised of a diverse group consisting of senior faculty-entrepreneurs, members of MILO, and members of the McMaster Seed Fund Investment committee or external venture funds.
The panel will evaluate the applications based on the following selection criteria:
- Potential for commercialization of McMaster IP through entrepreneurship,
- Degree of involvement of the applicant in the venture
- Preparation of the applicant and the team for venture development through programming or otherwise, and
- The probability that the fellowship will be transformative to the success of the venture.
Selection announcements will be made at the end of the pitch day after the panel deliberation period.
In assessing candidates, the selection committee will actively adhere to principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion, in a manner that is aligned with the university’s Faculty Recruitment and Selection Policy and guided by the Policy’s companion Handbook. The committee strives to understand and incorporate how entrepreneurship and commercialization impact is determined and communicated in different fields.
Deliverables for Awardees
McMaster Professor Entrepreneurs are expected to actively participate in quarterly cohort meetings with the selection panel, participate in entrepreneurship programming, and give pitches/updates at these meetings showing venture progress.
Application Deadline (Mandatory Registration): February 15th, 2024
Pitch Day for selected applicants: March 2024 (TBA)