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New Government Fellowship Opportunities Announced to Support Entrepreneurism and Defense Innovation


Two new government fellowship programs were unveiled this summer for recent science and engineering grads, by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

NSF Activate Entrepreneurial Fellowships

On 19 September, NSF announced that it has signed a multi-year cooperative agreement with to support entrepreneurial fellowships for qualified engineers and scientists to help them translate their research into new products and services that promise broad social benefits. is a nonprofit organization that launched its Activate Entrepreneurial Fellowship model in partnership with the Cyclotron Road program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and has partnered with U.S.-based funders and research institutions to grow the approach.

Over a two-year Fellowship, Entrepreneurial Fellows will receive training and at least $350,000 in direct support, plus access to specialized research facilities and equipment to advance their prototypes, refine their business models, build their teams, and secure follow-on funding. Support also comes from the Fellowship network of researchers and their facilities and in-residence communities.

“Entrepreneurial fellowships offer another pathway for researchers to transition promising ideas and technologies from the lab to society,” said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. “This new initiative strengthens NSF’s existing lab-to-market programs, and our commitment to translational research and developing a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem that involves every part of the country.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the National Science Foundation to empower more scientists and engineers to reinvent the world by bringing their research to market. With this support, we will scale our efforts to ensure that early-stage hard-tech entrepreneurs have the funding, technical support, mentorship, community, and education they need at the outset of their entrepreneurial journeys. We are thankful to TIP for leading the way to scale this impact,” said R. Todd Johnson, interim CEO, Activate.

The Fellowship program also aims to make entrepreneurship more accessible for people in less-developed innovation ecosystems, expanding geographic diversity and increasing participation by those traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. To help improve diversity, the program will support pre-doctoral Translational Research Experiences with placements at nascent science/tech-based start-ups.

To learn more about the NSF Activate Entrepreneurial Fellowships including how to apply, visit:

DARPA Innovation Fellowships

In August, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the creation of a new Innovation Fellowship program, a two-year opportunity for young scientists and engineers interested in supporting high-impact exploratory research on breakthrough technologies for national security.

“During their two years at DARPA, the fellows will push the limits of existing technology through rapid exploration and analysis of a high volume of promising new ideas,” said DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins. “Projects will focus on answering high-risk/high-reward ‘what if?’ questions and assessing the impact of further investment on problems of importance to the Department of Defense. We see these fellowships as a great way for the nation’s future scientific thought leaders to have the opportunity to make extensive connections across an extraordinarily rich, technologically focused network that includes DARPA program managers and the DARPA performer community.”

DARPA’s Innovation Fellowship is a salaried position at DARPA HQ in Arlington, Virginia, where Fellows will work with DARPA program managers across the DARPA technical offices and with university, industry and non-profit performers who work on DARPA-funded research.

DARPA is looking for recent Ph.D. graduates (within five years of receiving a doctorate) and active-duty military with STEM degrees to apply to become a DARPA Innovation Fellow. In exceptional cases, DARPA may consider bachelor- or master’s-level candidates with STEM degrees. U.S. citizenship is required for the fellowship, and selected candidates must be eligible to obtain and maintain a security clearance.

The first class of Innovation Fellows are expected to start in January 2023, and new classes will be placed every six months through an open application process.

For more information on DARPA’s Innovation Fellowships, see:

And if you’re interested in more opportunities like these, check out the IEEE-USA Government Fellowship program, which includes options in Congress, the State Department, and USAID. The 2023-2024 application deadline for this program is Friday, 9 December 2022 at 12:00pm ET.



IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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