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Whiteboard is a program designed to help faculty members understand and navigate the process of translating academic research out of their labs into Tough Tech startups.

The program provides faculty members with a framework for thinking about how to form a company, think through some of the challenges in company formation, and to further evaluate what their involvement in the company may be. The program is also aimed at creating a network of Tough Tech faculty founders bringing together experienced faculty entrepreneurs and first-time founders.

Whiteboard includes sessions led by The Engine team, seasoned faculty entrepreneurs and external guests with content structured around three forms of capital essential to Tough Tech ventures: technology, human and financial.


  • We do not take an equity stake in or create a formal business relationship during Whiteboard.

  • US-based faculty members or principal investigators employed at a university or research institution that are able to attend the session in-person at The Engine (750 Main St., Cambridge, MA).

  • No. The aim of the Whiteboard program is to help faculty explore the commercial opportunities for their research.

  • We cast a broad net and are open to all scientific and engineering disciplines. Areas The Engine has already invested in address challenges in climate change, human health and advanced systems and infrastructure but are by no means limited to that. We are constantly learning from researchers like you about new areas that are impactful.

  • Yes, the program is open to faculty members and principal investigators at all universities and research institutions, as long as they can attend all of the Whiteboard sessions in person.

  • No. The Whiteboard is designed for faculty members at any stage of venture formation, including professors without a specific idea or technology to commercialize.

  • Yes, Whiteboard is an in-person only program aimed at facilitating networking and sharing of experiences between faculty members.

  • We are happy to welcome you to our next cohort, but this program will be run entirely in-person.