The Tool Foundry team hosted an informational webinar on April 23 to give an overview of the accelerator and answer questions. Elizabeth Bowling, Luminary Labs strategist and Tool Foundry lead, discussed the vision for the accelerator, how it will help cohort teams, and what applicants should know about applying.
Watch the webinar recording below and check out the updated Tool Foundry FAQ to see answers to questions asked by attendees.
Why we’re launching an accelerator
A growing number of makers, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are paving the way by producing accessible tools. However, many early-stage inventors find it difficult to turn their ideas and prototypes into effective and useful tools that can be sustainably produced at scale. The Tool Foundry accelerator will help teams strengthen their tools and build a foundation for sustainable growth.
What the accelerator offers
We know that every team has different needs and expect that teams will be at different stages of development. The four-month accelerator experience includes customized support and curated resources to help teams rapidly overcome barriers and develop sustainable business models. Cohort members will have access to:
- $50,000 per team in non-dilutive funding
- Educational sessions with virtual learning modules from experts
- Expert guidance, exercises, and resources to iterate and develop tools and put learnings into practice
- Mentorship and networking with industry leaders
- Opportunities to learn from users through partnerships with community organizations
- Virtual and in-person collaboration with fellow cohort members
Who we’re looking for
The accelerator is designed for a diverse cohort of teams committed to expanding access to science. Tool Foundry is seeking teams working on prototypes for physical tools — specifically, tools and hardware 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.
Top questions, answered
At the end of the webinar, attendees submitted questions during the live Q&A session. A summary of the top questions and answers is below; see more in the Tool Foundry FAQ.
Is the accelerator a full-time commitment?
We do not require that teams commit to this full time, but the accelerator is a time-intensive program. While the majority of the accelerator will be virtual, at least one team member must attend the in-person events, including Boot Camp and the Tool Foundry Showcase. Teams are also expected to complete all exercises and attend scheduled learning sessions each week. We will work with teams at the start of the accelerator to address time constraints.
Who is eligible to participate?
The accelerator is designed for individuals over the age of 18 who are United States citizens or legal permanent residents at the time of entry and for all validly formed legal U.S. entities with a primary place of business is in the United States. If applying as a team of individuals, only the team lead must meet these eligibility requirements.
Do you only accept teams developing physical tools or hardware?
Yes, there must be some original physical or hardware component of your tool. However, your tool may have non-physical components (e.g., software or cloud integration).
Are there restrictions on how the funding can be used?
Once teams accept the funds, they may spend it as they see fit. While we encourage teams to use the funding for expenses associated with participation in the accelerator, such as travel to accelerator events and costs associated with product development, we have no requirements for its use. Teams will also not be required to report on how the funds are spent.
Do I have to give up any equity or intellectual property (IP) to participate in the accelerator?
No, accelerator participants do not give up any equity or intellectual property (IP) in exchange for the resources that we provide. Teams will retain the title to and full ownership of their organization and concepts, including any software, designs, research, or other intellectual property they develop.
Applications to the accelerator are due by 5:00 pm EDT on May 30, 2019. If you have questions that aren’t addressed in the webinar, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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