The Translational Fellows Program (TFP), established in 2013 by the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE), was created with the primary goals of accelerating the transfer of MIT research- derived technologies into commercial products, and generating professional development opportunities for postdoctoral associates.
Fellows are selected through a competitive, PI-initiated process and are paid 20% of their salary by the program for a one-day-a-week commitment. The TFP has developed an integrated yearlong program aimed at laying the foundations for a commercial launch of a research-derived technology. The alignment of resources available through MIT’s rich entrepreneurial ecosystem bridges the gap in the chain of research-based innovation and accelerates the pace and volume of technology translation. The program was founded with five participating postdocs by Professor Yoel Fink, director of the RLE. Sponsored by the MIT Innovation Initiative, in 2014 it was piloted at a larger scale, and a close collaboration was formed with the Venture Mentoring Service (VMS). In 2015, the TFP became an official campus-wide program with a new cohort of 26 postdocs.
In 2015, in addition to significant growth the program also had excellent outcomes. Two companies were launched – one began negotiating a large scale pilot, and the other – a strategic partnership. In addition, some fellows completed accelerator programs and the NSF national iCorps program, some accepted faculty positions at a number of universities, and one was recruited to lead a lab at an industry collaborator. Several fellows were awarded commercialization grants, and continued to develop their technologies and build their new ventures.