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Program Overview

The START Entrepreneurs program is a 12-month post designed to leverage the resources of Princeton University and the Princeton entrepreneurial ecosystem to help aspiring entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, explore the translation of academic innovations into highly impactful new ventures.

We are first and foremost seeking innovations and startup ideas that will be highly scalable and impactful and that are in the spirit of Princeton’s unofficial motto “Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity”. Strong candidates will exhibit an entrepreneurial spirit and can demonstrate a desire to bring their innovation from a research environment to the broader world. Applications are open to aspiring entrepreneurs from all disciplines.

Successful candidates will be selected based on their proposed startup, their entrepreneurial spirit, their potential contribution to the Princeton entrepreneurial ecosystem, the alignment with Princeton University faculty and resources and an overall commitment to supporting inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship.

Learn more about Princeton University’s areas of study.

START Entrepreneurs will receive a total package in excess of $100,000 that includes salary, benefits and a small amount of discretionary funds. Salary and benefit packages will differ based on candidate experience. The program can accommodate postdocs, research scholars and professional specialists – depending on qualifications.

In addition to funding, START Entrepreneurs will have access to world-class research facilities and faculty, tailored mentorship, targeted entrepreneurship education, and introductions to a network of founders and investors.

All Entrepreneurs will be expected to be present in Princeton, NJ for the duration of the 12-month program. This is a full-time commitment and is not compatible with other employment. While each START Entrepreneur will work autonomously, they are expected to set and meet milestones during the 12-month program. They will be required to report on progress/learnings to the START Entrepreneurs program team at regular intervals, to engage productively with mentors and with their fellow START Entrepreneurs, and to participate in educational offerings as appropriate.

At the end of the 12-month program, all START Entrepreneurs will be expected to present their findings about the viability of a startup venture. If it is determined that such a venture is viable, then after leaving Princeton’s employ, the START Entrepreneur may choose to create a separate and independent entity, e.g., a company or a non-profit organization, that leverages and builds upon the work done at Princeton. Any Princeton IP used by the startup will be subject to a licensing agreement with Princeton. If a START Entrepreneur determines that their startup idea is viable before the 12-months is completed, they may have the option, in consultation with their faculty mentor and the START Entrepreneurs program team, to leave Princeton’s employ early to pursue the creation of a spinout entity.

The START program strongly encourages applications from individuals who will contribute to the University’s diversity, broadly defined, including members of groups that have been historically, and are presently, underrepresented in academic entrepreneurship, such as racial and ethnic minorities. Consistent with applicable laws and Princeton policy, in selecting START Entrepreneurs and administering the START program, Princeton will not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, genetic information, or veteran status.

Please note that no prior connection to Princeton is required to be a START Entrepreneur, but all successful candidates will need to have the support of a faculty member in order to begin the program. You do not need to secure this support in order to apply. The START Entrepreneurs program team will work with all finalists to enlist the necessary faculty support.


To apply, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Earned a bachelor’s degree from any college or university – PhD strongly preferred.
  • Have a compelling reason to work on your startup at Princeton University – including the ability to leverage specific faculty expertise and intellectual property.
  • Demonstrate a passion for and commitment to entrepreneurship, broadly defined as the initiation of transformations through risk-taking actions and value-creating organizations. 
  • Applicants must be committed to working full-time on startup research and exploration activities. This program does not allow for other, concurrent, work activities.
  • The position is open to non-U.S. citizens and prior work authorization in the U.S. is not required.

Application Requirements:

  • All startup proposals must demonstrate a clear market and societal need that the START Entrepreneur will work to address and an explanation of how the startup will be feasible, impactful and scalable.
  • Applications must include a milestone-based plan of what will be achieved during the year.
  • Applicants must include the name of at least one Princeton faculty member* whom they would like to have advise on their research and provide mentorship. If you are selected as a finalist, the START Entrepreneurs program team will work with you to find a faculty member to sponsor your application (this person may or may not be on the list that you provided with your application).  
  • Please note that there is a different application process for candidates with a PhD and those without a PhD.

For questions contact Lauren Bender ([email protected]).

* To search for faculty members’ research areas, you can visit


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