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Accelerator

From prototype to scalable tool

A growing number of makers, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are paving the way by producing lower-cost, higher-quality, easier-to-use hardware tools. But many inventors find it difficult to turn their prototypes into effective and useful tools that can be sustainably produced at scale.

The Tool Foundry accelerator is a four-month program emphasizing education and collaboration to help inventor teams strengthen their tools and build a foundation for sustainable growth. Every team has different needs — from business planning to user testing. The accelerator experience includes customized support and curated resources to help teams rapidly address barriers, fill gaps, and develop sustainable business models.

As part of the accelerator, cohort members have access to the following:

$50,000 per team

$50,000 per team

Non-dilutive funding to offset expenses associated with participation in the accelerator.

Educational sessions

Educational sessions

Virtual learning modules from experts on topics including user-centered design, sustainable business modeling, and supply chain optimization.

Technical guidance

Technical guidance

Expert guidance, exercises, and resources to iterate and develop tools and put learnings into practice.

Mentorship and networking

Mentorship and networking

Connection to industry leaders for expert advice, on-demand problem-
solving, and relationship building.

Learning from users

Learning from users

Partnerships with community organizations to put tools in the hands of potential users for testing, feedback, and community building.

Peer collaboration

Peer collaboration

Virtual and in-person opportunities to collaborate, share expertise, and learn from fellow cohort members.

Accelerator roadmap

Open applications

April 4 - May 30, 2019

Apply to join the accelerator cohort. We’re looking for individuals or teams who are developing accessible tools for scientific discovery.

For more information, sign up for the webinar.

Applications close at 5:00 p.m. EDT on May 30, 2019.

Apply now

Cohort selection

June - July 2019

Cohort candidate selection: June 2019
The selection committee invites up to 12 teams to participate in cohort candidate presentations.

Cohort candidate presentations: July 2019
Cohort candidate teams present prototypes and participate in a live Q&A with the selection committee. 

Cohort selection: July 2019
The selection committee chooses five teams to join the accelerator cohort. 

Accelerator

July - October 2019

Accelerator period: July – October 2019
Cohort teams receive $50,000 each and participate in virtual and in-person accelerator activities. 

Boot Camp: August 20 – 21, 2019
Cohort teams convene at Autodesk Technology Center in San Francisco, in partnership with Autodesk Foundation, for a two-day, in-person workshop for cohort collaboration, educational sessions, expert feedback, and interactive exercises. 

Showcase

November 2019

Cohort teams will present their tools at a celebratory Tool Foundry Showcase.

Don’t miss the chance to attend the Showcase: sign up for the Tool Foundry Journal and be the first to know when tickets are available.

Selection criteria

The Tool Foundry accelerator is looking for high-potential teams with prototypes for tools that meet real needs.

We are committed to promoting equity in all aspects of the Tool Foundry initiative. We seek applications from teams with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, including those from historically marginalized groups.   


The Team

The accelerator is designed to bring together a diverse cohort of teams committed to expanding access to science. The strongest candidates will be well-rounded teams who have tool prototypes, but need help to scale and sustain them.

The selection committee will use the following criteria to evaluate teams.

  • Ability.
    Demonstrated ability of the team to develop the tool as proposed and scale it beyond the program timeframe.
  • Growth potential.
    Extent to which the team demonstrates awareness of gaps, openness to feedback, and commitment to advancing their tool and team.
  • Vision.
    Belief in the mission of expanding access to science; expressed interest in scaling the tool and developing additional tools to further address access to science.

The Tool

We are looking for tools that are low-cost, high-quality, and easy-to-use for scientific discovery. “Low-cost” may mean free, $5, or $50 — most importantly, the tool must provide a significant decrease in cost or increase in performance that expands access in a meaningful way.

Tools should be physical tools or hardware in the prototype stage of development. A prototype can be low-fidelity as long as it demonstrates what the tool will look like and how it will work.

The selection committee will use the following criteria to evaluate tools.

  • Impact.
    Extent to which the tool has the potential to drive scientific exploration and meet the needs of a broad population of users.
  • Accessibility.
    Potential for the tool to be easily and affordably acquired or constructed; extent to which the tool addresses barriers to public participation in science.
  • Innovation.
    Ingenuity of the engineering and/or approach; extent to which the tool is a departure from or improvement on what is currently on the market.
  • Performance.
    Extent to which the tool is high-quality, consistent, and can be effectively used for the proposed use cases.

How to apply

The Tool Foundry accelerator is currently accepting applications.

Apply to join the cohort by completing all required fields in the application form by 5:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 30, 2019. Applications must designate a team lead, who will be the primary representative and point of contact. Late applications will not be accepted. All applications must be submitted electronically and the applications may not be altered after submission.

If you encounter a technical problem with the application system or you would like to request an accommodation or auxiliary aid, please email us.

Apply now

Selection committee

The selection committee — distinguished leaders in entrepreneurship, science innovation, social impact investment, design and engineering, and science and technology equity — will evaluate teams and tools to identify those who have the greatest potential for success.

More selection committee members will be added as they are confirmed. Committee members will recuse themselves from evaluating any applications that present a conflict of interest. Additional expert advisors will be enlisted to support the committee during the selection process.

Alex Healey

Alex Healey

Senior Associate,
Acumen
Alexis Lewis

Alexis Lewis

Teen Inventor
Social innovation entrepreneur
Christofer Nelson

Christofer Nelson

Chief Operating Officer,
Association of Science-Technology Centers
Denice Ross

Denice Ross

Fellow in Residence,
Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation
Keith Kirkland

Keith Kirkland

Co-founder & CEO,
WearWorks
Robbie Barbero

Robbie Barbero

Chief Business Officer,
Ceres Nanosciences
Ruthe Farmer

Ruthe Farmer

Chief Evangelist,
CSforALL