Fully Funded MIT D-Lab Innovation Ecosystem Builders Fellowship In USA 2018

Applications are currently been accepted for the Fully Funded MIT D-Lab Innovation Ecosystem Builders Fellowship In USA 2018, eligible persons are invited to apply for this program.

 Calling emerging local leaders from the Global South! Applications are open for MIT D-Lab Innovation Ecosystem Builders Fellowship 2018. MIT D-Lab’s newest fellowship convenes and equips local leaders in low-income communities who are building innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems to address local and global challenges. These innovation ecosystem builders will spend a year learning, connecting, and experimenting, using D-Lab’s participatory design methodology to devise and refine collaborative initiatives.


Level: Fellowship

Field: Technology/Innovation/Ecosystem

Eligible countries: All

To be Taken in: USA


Between March 2018 and March 2019, MIT D-Lab will provide clusters of fellows from three to five different emerging innovation ecosystems with training, travel, and community so that they can:

  • LEARN: They provide training in our participatory design methodologies and exposure to strategies from around the world for supporting innovators and entrepreneurs and creating systems change.
    • Fellows will receive training in our participatory design methodologies and exposure to relevant research and case studies from around the world in order to learn from D-Lab’s and others’ experience supporting innovators and entrepreneurs and creating systems change.
    • Fellows will teach one another lessons they have learned from their own work.
    • Together fellows will generate new ideas, hypotheses, and research questions around creating and sustaining robust innovation ecosystems.
  • CONNECT: They bring clusters of fellows from a few innovation ecosystems together through both in-person and online events, creating a community of support among them while connecting them to other potential collaborators, mentors, researchers, student interns, service providers, and funders.
    • Fellows will be funded to gather in person two to three times during the year and will connect with each other online throughout the fellowship year, forming a community of support for one another.
    • Fellows will try out new strategies for engaging a variety of local stakeholders in their program design and execution.
    • Fellows will also be connected to potential collaborators, mentors, researchers, student interns, service providers, and funders.
  • EXPERIMENT: They offer guidance and funding to help fellows test their new collaborative programs and initiative ideas, and we adjust our own programming to meet fellows’ needs.
    • Fellows will put their new design and collaboration skills and new ideas into practice, working together within and across their ecosystem teams to devise and conduct low-cost program pilots to engage potential users and partners, test assumptions, gather useful feedback, and refine their designs.
    • Fellows will receive guidance and small amounts of funding from the program to support these experiments.
    • Fellows will also elicit and receive feedback and support from their cohort and mentors over the course of their design iterations.
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They are seeking applicants whose programs/organizations/initiatives/ventures are:

  • Dedicated to training, funding, resourcing, networking, or otherwise serving local innovators and entrepreneurs*
  • Based in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, or East Asia & the Pacific
  • Working with communities or in contexts in which people earn on average less than $3 USD per day
  • Committed to social impact and inclusive innovation and design
  • At least two years old
  • Have either a proven business model or funding secured to cover core operations for at least 50% of the fellowship year

They are looking for individual fellows who are:

  • In positions with both decision-making authority and implementing responsibility over programming and budgeting for their program/initiative
  • Committed to collaborating with a variety of people within their ecosystem
  • Excited both to learn and to develop new techniques and methodologies for building their innovation ecosystem
  • Prepared to dedicate time and resources to initiate new programs or change existing programs over the course of the coming year
  • Living at least part-time in the context in which they are working
  • Committed to continue working within the same innovation ecosystem as you are now for at least two years following the close of the fellowship

* Examples of applicants’ current ecosystems-focused initiatives, programs, and organizations might include:

  • education institutions and programs
  • incubators and accelerators
  • coworking spaces, makerspaces and fablabs
  • public and private sector funders
  • government and NGO development programs
  • impact-oriented product distributors and resellers
  • online networking and job-sharing platforms
  • advocacy organizations or campaigns

Evaluation Criteria

Requests for Information will be evaluated by the Innovation Ecosytem Manager, D-Lab staff, and representatives from collaborator initiatives at MIT and elsewhere. They will be weighing applications based on the following criteria:

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The Ecosystem

  • Strategic coherence with D-Lab work and partners
  • Number & Diversity of strong applications
  • Potential for growth

The Fellow’s Initiative

  • Alignment with fellowship goals
  • Demonstrated impact
  • Capacity for collaboration/increased impact

The Fellow

  • Capacity for leadership
  • Dedication to Community
  • Enthusiasm for approach


Deadline: December 18, 2017


Fill out the online Request for Information by 9 A.M. EST, Monday, December 18, 2017, and encourage others who are supporting innovators and entrepreneurs in your community to do the same.

Clusters of applicants from a few well-represented emerging ecosystems will be invited to submit full applications in February, 2018. A final cohort of fellows from three to five ecosystems will be chosen that month.

For more information, visit MIT D-Lab Innovation Ecosystem Builders Fellowship.

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