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Science Center’s new startup development program is aimed at first-gen STEM students


As Philadelphia expands its reputation and capacity for the life sciences industry, it’s also folding in efforts toward accessibility. A unique program coming to the University City Science Center in the form of a yearlong, immersive curriculum aimed at first-generation postgraduate degree candidates is hoping to cultivate more of that talent.

The new STEM Founders Fellowship is designed to give academic researchers hands-on startup experience. The program is for aspiring entrepreneurs and researchers who have an advanced degree in a STEM field from a higher ed institution in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware who would like to turn their research or hypotheses into a business, and who are the first in their families to earn an advanced degree.

Ten will be selected based on a startup proposal demonstrating a “clear market need with clear explanation on how the startup will be feasible, impactful and scalable.”

The program will be overseen by Troy Wilford, the Science Center’s director of commercialization solutions.

The STEM Founders Fellowship will be split into two sections.

For the first six months, at 20 hours per week, the fellows will focus on immersive learning, where they’ll work alongside other ic@3401-based startups and serve as venture associates for capital initiatives. That learning will include company portfolio management and support, intellectual property and legal issues, regulatory information, due diligence, valuations and deal screening, and investor relations.

The second half of the program will be dedicated to building, and participants should be willing to commit to their ventures full time.

Fellows will also receive a $50,000 stipend over the course of the program.

Though the program is designed for and prefers first-gen college graduates, it is not a requirement to apply, a Science Center spokesperson said.

Applications for the program are open through Friday, Aug. 12, and the fellowship will begin in September.

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Kristen Fitch

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