The Innovation Ambassadors Program is an institutional initiative to provide Vanderbilt faculty with improved, peer-delivered access to information and assistance related to innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. The Program achieves this goal by recruiting a faculty Ambassador from each department to act as a liaison between researchers and innovation programs across campus. Ambassadors receive instruction on a variety of commercialization, intellectual property, and entrepreneurship topics, as well as application of Vanderbilt policies and procedures, all designed to enable them to help others in their departments obtain quick guidance and access to all their innovation and entrepreneurship needs.
The Innovation Ambassadors Program is an initiative of the Enabling Innovation Initiative, a joint effort between the School of Medicine (SOM), Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), and Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC). However, the Program is intended to serve the entire Vanderbilt research community and is not limited to life science researchers. The Program’s success relies exclusively on the volunteer Ambassadors and support from their departments.
Each department and/or division that would like to participate will be represented by a single Ambassador, who will commit to a 2-year term with the Ambassador Program. We strive to keep time obligations of Ambassadors to a minimum, with an initial one-time onboarding and training commitment of about six hours, and 1-2 hours per month for workshops, meetings, and activities. Resources describing relevant policies will be provided to adequately prepare participants for success in the Program. Ambassadors from the different departments will connect quarterly to share experiences, successes and challenges, and to identify new initiatives that can positively affect innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. As part of the aforementioned time commitment, Ambassadors will periodically organize departmental presentations to update departments/divisions on innovation and entrepreneurship activities at Vanderbilt and the local community. There will also be opportunities for optional activities, such as serving as guest judges during pitch competitions at the Wond’ry.
While Ambassadors will bring a clear value to their local department and/or division, they will also have access to many benefits. As an innovation leader in the Program, Ambassadors will be closely connected with both VU/VUMC and regional leadership. Networking and education opportunities will come through retreats and workshops, presentations, and access to regional conferences. Ongoing training will be provided to participants (e.g., emerging trends in startup funding, top 10 court cases affecting IP licensing, local and national funding sources, etc.), making them better equipped for their own pursuits. Finally, active Ambassadors will receive special merchandise and swag, such as the custom fleece pullovers with the Ambassador Program logo chosen for our inaugural Ambassadors.