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Graduate Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I go if I have an idea that I want to turn into a startup?

A significant number of Harvard graduate students launch or join startups during and/or upon completing their academic work.

  • If your startup intends to make use of innovations developed at Harvard, reach out to the Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD), part of the Provost’s Office, to understand how the innovations are affected by the University’s Statement of Policy on Intellectual Property (IP Policy), which addresses the ownership and management of these innovations. The Office of Technology Development works with Harvard inventors to ensure university innovations are developed to their fullest potential.
  • The Harvard Innovation Labs is an innovative ecosystem at Harvard with robust venture formation programming and three physical lab spaces including the Harvard i-lab, the Launch Lab X, and the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab. The Harvard i-lab is a resource available to all current students who are looking to explore innovation and entrepreneurship at any stage. Students can visit the Harvard i-lab for access to advisors, office hours with industry experts, workshops, incubator programming, funding opportunities, and venture competitions.
How do I report an invention or intellectual asset to the Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD)? Why is reporting important?

The Office of Technology development provides guidance and instructions on how to submit a Report of Innovation form. Completing the Report of Innovation form is a crucial first step toward protecting your interests and your innovation’s potential.

OTD’s ability to protect intellectual property falls in jeopardy if you publish, present, or share your findings with others on a non-confidential basis before OTD files a patent application. If you plan to disclose any information about your innovation to others, please contact OTD immediately.

Harvard OTD has created The Inventor’s Handbook to serve as an introductory guide to intellectual property and development for Harvard faculty, researchers, and innovators. 

Does SEAS offer classes in entrepreneurship?

Students can register for courses that provide a variety of entrepreneurial experiences. Students can also pursue innovation through academic projects and elective courses while completing degree requirements. Current and prospective students can learn more about graduate program learning outcomes and degree requirements by exploring the SEAS academic programs

Students can review the course catalog for a complete listing of available entrepreneurial courses. Suggested terms to search in the catalog include: entrepreneurship, innovation, startup, venture, and design. 

Students are also encouraged to discuss course options with academic advisors.

 

Are there Harvard makerspaces, coworking spaces, and labs that I can access to work on my startup?
  • If you are a current, full-time, degree-seeking Harvard student, you can access coworking-space at the Harvard i-lab where you can work on ventures and collaborate with students across all Harvard schools. The i-lab offers resources for student ventures including the Maker Studio for prototyping and manufacturing, the AR/VR Studio with immersive technologies, and the Media Studio for multimedia content creation.
  • The Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab is a wet laboratory with co-working space for early-stage, high-potential biotech and life science startups founded by Harvard students, alumni, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars. As part of the Harvard Innovation Labs ecosystem, ventures in this space have access to robust programming and resources.
  • The SEAS Active Learning Labs offer resources for individual/club-related student projects including industrial-grade 3D printers and desktop computers with a variety of engineering software. To gain access, students must complete a yearly general lab safety training along with any lab-specific training.
What entrepreneurship programs can I participate in to learn about venture formation?
  • The Venture Program is a resource-rich program, offered through the Harvard Innovation Labs, designed to help current Harvard students and select alumni pursue entrepreneurial ventures while diving deep into the world of innovation.
  • The Business Development Fellowship, offered through the Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD) is a paid, part-time opportunity that provides Harvard Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers an opportunity to participate in the crucial early stages of technology assessment and development, gaining experience in translating research discoveries into products that reach the public.
  • Harvard OTD also hosts an annual two-day workshop for Harvard Ph.D. students and postdocs called the Bench-to-Business Boot Camp. The Boot Camp does not focus specifically on venture creation, but is designed to teach you the skills to recognize and convey the value of scientific and technological innovations to the world of industry, business, and entrepreneurship. 
Does Harvard have mentors and experienced entrepreneurs available to share advice about launching a venture?
  • Students can book one-on-one meetings with industry experts through the Harvard Innovation Labs’ office hours appointment calendar.
  • Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD) can introduce you to experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts through its Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) and Experts-in-Residence (XIR) programs. EIRs become familiar with the latest research in Harvard labs, give advice on entrepreneurship and innovation to those who ask, and can help catalyze new startups around Harvard technologies. Separately, the XIRs have a wealth of experience in company formation and leadership, intellectual property strategy, legal transactions, product development, regulatory affairs, marketing, corporate partnerships, and more.
     
Who can I contact for legal advice?

For one-on-one advice, students can book appointments with legal guides through the Harvard Innovation Labs’ office hours appointment calendar.

How can I find out about entrepreneurial career opportunities, such as working for a startup?

SEAS students seeking career advice should schedule an appointment to meet with the SEAS Office of Student Career Development.

The Harvard Office of Career Services (OCS) is a Harvard-wide resource available to help students explore potential career pathways. Students can view and apply for open opportunities through Crimson Careers, a centralized hub for job and internship posting.

Harvard's entrepreneurs benefit from our proximity to Boston and the startup communities surrounding our campuses. Boston is a hub for innovation with highly active entrepreneurial ecosystems. Learn more about the resources available on campus and in the region through the resource lists below. 

Harvard Office of Technology Development list of resources: Resources for Entrepreneurs

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