Supporting inclusive entrepreneurship with faces of diverse entrepreneurs

Program Overview

The START Entrepreneurs program is an integrated program that is part academic fellowship and part startup accelerator. The goal of the program is to help aspiring commercial and social entrepreneurs translate academic scholarship into highly impactful new ventures.

In this 30-month program, START Entrepreneurs spend up to 12 months on campus working to translate academic innovations into a for-profit or not-for-profit venture. This is followed by 18 months working off campus for that venture.

Throughout the program, START Entrepreneurs receive extensive entrepreneurship education and tailored mentorship to give them the skills that they need to transition from academic researcher to startup founder building a venture and hiring a team to scale that startup to the point where it receives outside funding to continue to expand.

We are first and foremost seeking research and startups 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”.

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.

Please note that no prior connection to Princeton is required to be a START Entrepreneur.

Program Details

All Entrepreneurs will be expected to be present in Princeton, NJ for the duration of the 30-month program. This is a full-time commitment, and is not compatible with other employment.

During the 12 months working as a Princeton employee, START Entrepreneurs will receive a salary of $75,000 plus benefits, as well as a $10,000 research stipend.

During the following 18-month accelerator, startups will receive a direct investment from Princeton to cover salary expenses, rent and other startup costs.

Back to top

Research Areas

Applications are open to all academic areas, and we hope to welcome START Entrepreneurs from a breadth of disciplines. 

Learn more about Princeton University’s areas of study.

Back to top

Eligibility & Requirements

Eligibility:  To apply, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Earned an advanced degree from any university by the start date of their appointment. 
  • Have the ability to work in the US. US citizens, US permanent residents (green card holders) and non-immigrants with unrestricted employment authorization (visa holders) are eligible to apply. 
  • Strong preference for applicants with PhDs.
  • All applicants must be nominated by a Princeton faculty member who will act as PI.
  • Applicants must be committed to becoming a full-time entrepreneur. This program does not allow for other, concurrent, work activities or study.

Startup Requirements

The purpose of this program is to enable entrepreneurs to translate academic research into highly impactful new ventures. Thus:

  • All startup proposals must demonstrate a clear market need that the venture will work to meet.
  • The proposal should explain how the startup will be feasible, impactful and scalable.
  • The proposed research should be strongly aligned with the sponsoring Princeton faculty member.

Other Requirements

This program is designed to foster diversity, equity and inclusion, including to support and empower historically-underrepresented entrepreneurs.  All applicants must explain how their candidacy will contribute to this goal.

Back to top

Dates for 2022 Cohort

Milestones Dates
Applications Open: Now
Applications Close: July 10, 2022 11:59pm ET
Offers Made August 5, 2022
Program Starts September 1, 2022 in Princeton, NJ

Dates for 2023 Cohort to be announced shortly

For questions contact Lauren Bender (

Back to top


Q: I am a few years out of my PhD and have been working. How will this impact my candidacy?

While we welcome applicants who have been working outside of academia, it will be important to demonstrate that you are able to quickly transition back to research within an academic setting.

Q: I have an idea for a startup, can I apply with this idea?  This program is focused on transitioning academic research into impactful startups. Your research will need to fit well with the expertise, resources and focus of the faculty member with whom you work, and this research should be an integral part of the startup value proposition.

Q: May I finish my PhD research at the same time that I am in the program?
No. You must complete your degree before the program begins.

Q: Must my PI be a tenured or tenure-track Princeton faculty member? 

No, though that is preferable. You may apply to do your research with a lecturer or non-tenured faculty member, as long as they have at least 18 months left on their contract at the time your fellowship begins.

Q: I don’t have a relationship with a Princeton faculty member. How can I find a PI? 

You should reach out directly to faculty members whom you believe would be a good fit for your research. Since this is a new program for Princeton, not all faculty members will be familiar with the details of the START program. Feel free to have the faculty member reach out to Lauren Bender for more information. 

Q: Can the startup use IP owned by another institution? 

While it is the intent that the startup leverages the research being done in Phase 1 of the program, the startup is free to license technology from elsewhere. If you plan to use IP from another institution, it is recommended that you already have the IP licensing agreement in place before joining Princeton.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Lauren Bender at

Back to top


Key Dates

Milestones Dates

Applications for 2022 Cohort

Application deadline July 10, 2022.
Applications for 2023 Cohort Applications will open on September 1, 2022.


Join a 30-minute virtual info session for more information about the START Entrepreneurs program. Info sessions are scheduled throughout June 2022, all at 12 pm ET.

You can schedule a 30 minute informational meeting with Lauren Bender of the START Entrepreneurs program.

Princeton Entrepreneurship Council logo
Princeton Innovation logo

Join our mailing list to receive updates about the START fellowship accelerator program