Innovation Policy Fellowship

Frequently Asked Questions

Josh MakowerStanford Biodesign’s director, Josh Makower, testifying in Washington, DC

Who are the directors of the Innovation Policy Fellowship?

The Innovation Policy Fellowship is led by fellowship director James Wall and research director Sandra Waugh Ruggles. Fellows also will have the opportunity to engage extensively with the co-founder and director of Stanford Biodesign, Josh Makower and our senior advisor to our policy program, Kavita Patel.

What’s the difference between the new Innovation Policy Fellowship and Stanford Biodesign’s Innovation Fellowship

The Innovation Policy Fellowship is a new educational program targeted at future policy leaders interested in the intersection between health policy and health technology innovation. Policy fellows will go on to pursue a wide variety of policy-related careers (see below).

The Innovation Fellowship is Stanford Biodesign’s original educational program for training aspiring innovators in our proven process for needs-driven health technology innovation. Innovation fellows have gone on to use their training to found organizations, drive innovation inside major health technology companies, invent important new technologies, and/or teach others the Biodesign Process.

Can I apply to both fellowship programs at the same time?

We encourage you to apply to the fellowship that is best aligned with your career goals. However, if you believe your background and interests are good fit for both, you may pursue the two programs concurrently. Please be aware that the application requirements and deadlines differ by program and that you may want/need to secure different letters of recommendation.

What career paths will Innovation Policy Fellows pursue after the fellowship?

Fellowship alumni will be equipped to pursue a wide variety of careers that include policy-related positions in academia, federal or state legislative or executive branches, government agencies, government affairs departments within a health technology corporation, advocacy organizations, non-profits, or think tanks.

Is the Innovation Policy Fellowship targeted at applicants at a particular stage in their career?

We are seeking applicants who are motivated to make an impact in health technology policy, regardless of the stage of your career. We encourage all qualified applicants to apply.

How does this fellowship differ from other health policy programs or internships?

The Innovation Policy fellowship is a unique experience that focuses on the intersection of policy and health technology innovation. The two-year program allows fellows to:

  • First, conduct cutting-edge policy research while immersing themselves in the process of health technology innovation
  • Second, participate in the policy-making process and help bridge the divide between health technology innovators and policymakers.

With the first research year located at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and the second internship year spent in Washington, DC or another policy hub, fellows are able to fully experience both worlds of innovation and policy-making.

How many Innovation Policy Fellowships are available?

For the inaugural class of Innovation Policy Fellows, we will select 2-4 top candidates from the application pool.

When is the application deadline?

The application cycle for the 2023-25 fellowship year will open in June 2022 and close on Thursday, September 22, 2022.

Important: It is your responsibility to ensure that all application materials are received by the deadline, including all three letters of recommendation (see below for more information). Incomplete applications will not be considered and application fees will not be refunded.

What are the qualifications for selection?

We are seeking applicants with diverse backgrounds from health systems, quality and regulatory environments, health technology start-ups or corporations, or government. An advanced degree (MS, MPH, JD, MD, RN, or PhD) and 3-5 years of relevant work experience (or post-graduate study) is preferred.

We look for individuals with a strong desire to pursue careers in health policy and a demonstrated interest in health technology innovation. Previous research and publishing experience are recommended but not required. We are seeking candidates with exceptional leadership ability, initiative, and strong written and verbal communication skills who are inquisitive, enterprising, and persuasive.

Stanford Biodesign is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to diversity at every step of the recruitment process and we recognize that differences in age, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability, thinking style, and background bring richness to our program. Learn more about our commitment to diversity.

Can I apply if I am not a US citizen?

Candidates of any citizenship are welcome and encouraged to apply. Currently, we are working through the details on how the program's second year will be handled for foreign nationals. The applied second-year experience may need to be hosted in your home country. Please note that English proficiency is required for all fellowship participants.

How many letters of recommendation must I have, when are they due, and what should they cover?

Three letters of recommendation are required. We must have all three letters by the application deadline or your application will not be considered. (Note: you can submit a total of four letters if, for example, you are concerned about recommenders’ letters not arriving by the deadline. However, this is completely optional.)

Ask individuals to write your letters who know you well, whose opinion you trust, and who want to see you succeed. These recommenders must be able to provide specific examples, anecdotes, and evidence of your unique skills and accomplishments.

Your recommenders will be asked to assess your performance on the skills we’re seeking in the fellowship and to provide a reference letter that addresses the following prompts:

  • How do you know and interact with the applicant?
  • Give a specific example of how the applicant has demonstrated exemplary leadership, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and/or change making skills in your interactions together.
  • What is the most important constructive feedback that you have given the applicant? How did the applicant respond?
  • Is there anything else that we should know about the applicant?

Important: The requests for letters are automatically generated and sent by our application system when you enter the contact information for your references. In order to give your references adequate time to respond, do not wait until the last day to enter this information into the application. We also encourage you to proactively confirm with your references that they have received the request from our system.

Once written, your references must submit their recommendations through the online system. We will not accept letters delivered via email or the postal service. It is your responsibility to follow up with those whom you have asked to provide the recommendations and ensure that the letters are received by the application deadline.

What is the application fee?

We charge a $95 non-refundable application fee. If your application is incomplete by the deadline, we will not refund your payment. Please contact us by email if you are experiencing a financial hardship and would like to request a fee waiver.

When are the interviews?

Applicants selected to interview for the 2023-25 fellowship will interview virtually on Thursday, October 27, 2022 from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm Pacific, with a virtual evening welcome event on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm Pacific. If you intend to submit an application, please hold these dates/times on your calendar. Invitations to interview will be emailed on Monday October 10, 2022, with a request to confirm participation within 24 hours. We expect candidates to be available on Thursday evening and during business hours on Friday, Pacific Time. However, we will work with those in other time zones to ensure as reasonable a schedule as possible.

When will the finalists be notified about their acceptance?

We will notify all finalists of our acceptance decisions before the end of the 2022 calendar year.

When does the fellowship start?

The Innovation Policy fellowship will begin on August 1, 2023.

Is the fellowship a full-time commitment?

Yes. The Innovation Policy Fellowship is an intense full-time experience. It will not be feasible to maintain another position during the fellowship experience unless on a full sabbatical or leave of absence.

Can I take other Stanford courses while completing the Innovation Policy Fellowship during my time at the university?

Fellows are expected to be fully engaged with policy research and other elements of the curriculum during their first year and will not have time to audit other Stanford courses. Exceptions are possible in rare cases where a compelling need exists.

Do the Innovation Policy Fellows receive compensation?

Compensation for the 2023-25 Innovation Policy Fellowship will be approximately $5,464 per month, plus a one-time $1,000 computer stipend. This amount is enough to cover basic room and board during the fellowship period.

Do the Innovation Policy Fellows receive benefits?

Stanford University health insurance coverage is available for Innovation Policy Fellows, spouses, and dependents, if desired. Benefits vary depending on  your appointment category. However, plans include medical, dental, and vision coverage, as well as mental health and maternity/paternity benefits.

Can I choose the area/topic for my policy research during the first year?

Stanford Biodesign maintains a research agenda that is developed in collaboration with a board of policy advisors from across the health technology sector. In the first month of the program, the research director will work with each incoming fellow to align your research projects with your background, research experience, interests, and career goals. While we will try to be accommodating, we cannot guarantee what projects the fellows will work on in advance.

How can I learn more about the Innovation Policy Fellowship?

Stanford Biodesign will host two webinars during the recruiting cycle to provide prospective applicants with more information, as well as the opportunity to ask questions. Learn more and register to attend on the Program Details page.

Can I visit Stanford Biodesign to learn more?

To ensure a "level playing field" for all candidates, we are not able to accommodate in-person visits at this time. Instead, we encourage you to participate in one of our webinars to learn more about the program and get your questions answered. Register to attend on the Program Details page.

What other ways are there to get involved with Stanford Biodesign?

The best way to get or stay connected with Stanford Biodesign is to attend our events, where you can engage with our faculty, fellows, alumni, and other members of our growing community. To learn more about the Stanford Biodesign innovation process, check out our textbook and video library.