New fellowship to bolster innovation in clean technology

Cornell MBA students, doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers focusing on clean energy and climate technology now have the opportunity to collaborate on real-world startup creation through a new fellowship and certificate program offered by the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.  

The Green Technology Innovation Fellowship will prepare participants to launch their own startups or serve as leaders in the global transition to clean energy and technology.

“This fellowship will play a vital role in helping Ph.D. and MBA candidates from across Cornell to develop the entrepreneurial judgment and leadership skills necessary to lead in a new green economy,” said Andrew Karolyi, dean of SC Johnson. 

Each year, up to 30 participants will be selected for the program, half MBA students and half doctoral students or postdoctoral researchers. 

The program’s structure mirrors that of the BioEntrepreneurship Initiative, a fellowship launched last year that pairs MBA students with doctoral life scientists to explore commercialization of biotechnology innovations. The two programs share an objective to develop the next generation of science-based startup leaders.

“We are thrilled to introduce this innovative new program that builds on the model we pioneered with the BioEntrepreneurship Initiative,” said Mark Nelson, dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. “The Green Technology Fellowship program will provide MBAs and Ph.D.s who are working toward a greener future with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to lead the transition of cutting-edge research into scalable commercial ventures.” 

“The combined expertise of researchers and business acumen of MBA students will accelerate the commercialization of revolutionary technologies by focusing on the development of the startup leadership teams that energize technology commercialization,” said Gregory Ray, Ph.D. ’14, program lead and instructor in the Johnson School. “Cornell is a world-renowned leader in clean energy research, and we have a moral imperative as a university to invest in translation of that research to help solve some of the most pressing issues of our time.” 

Teams of students will create business plans, assess target markets and test business models in real-world situations. They’ll participate in a workshop series on topics including discovery, iteration, testing, scaling and strategy, and a faculty or advisory panel will review the work accomplished by the teams between each workshop. 

“Cornell is committed to increasing the impact of our translational research, and this includes growing the cohort of ambitious and ethical leaders in clean tech and renewable energy companies,” said Krystyn Van Vliet, vice president for research and innovation. “The Green Technology Innovation Fellowship provides that early exposure of our students and postdocs to moving such concepts from lab to regulated markets.”

Applications are now open for the program’s first cohort. Qualified candidates who apply by May 1 will be guaranteed an interview; after that, applications will continue to be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Bridget Hagen is a marketing/communications coordinator for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

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