April 28, 2022
The New ASME Idea Lab Incubator Has Launched for Aspiring Social Entrepreneurs with an Idea
contributor: Rob Goodier
Application deadline: June 6th at 5pm EST
Prospective social entrepreneurs have a new incubator for transforming their ideas into devices that improve lives in the world’s underserved communities: Idea Lab. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is now accepting applications from anyone around the world with a good idea or an early stage prototype for the first round of its new program.
Idea Lab extends the reach of the ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) hardware accelerator platform, offering resources to people who have identified a social or environmental challenge they think could be addressed through a tangible, physical innovation (hardware, as opposed to solutions based entirely on apps and other software). Applicants can submit either an engineering problem statement or a conceptual hardware solution that, once developed and scaled, could have a positive impact on vulnerable populations.
The deadline for applications is June 6 at 5 p.m. EST.
With the addition of the Idea Lab incubator, ASME moves “upstream” to aid budding social entrepreneurs in developing their social impact concepts from the pre-prototype stage and filling the pipeline for future ISHOW participants poised to bring those innovations to the communities who need them. ISHOW is ASME’s international accelerator of hardware prototypes intended to improve the quality of life in vulnerable and underserved regions. ISHOW has supported more than 180 startups from more than 30 countries. And ISHOW alumni have developed affordable and sustainable solutions that address many of the challenges outlined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including access to healthcare diagnostics, clean energy, water, sanitation, and affordable agricultural innovations to help end hunger and food waste.
Entrepreneurs, academics, engineers, designers, students, hobbyists, and others with an innovative mindset, passion for solving urgent problems, and willingness to learn are encouraged to apply for this customized learning and mentoring opportunity. Interested applicants can access free educational resources on the ISHOW website to familiarize themselves with the design process before submitting an Idea Lab application.
The goal of the Idea Lab engagement is to support innovators from the conceptual phase through the production of a low-fidelity prototype suitable for the next phase of technology development: the ASME ISHOW accelerator. An initial cohort of Idea Lab candidates will be engaged in the program for six to 18 months, depending on their stage of development, technical knowledge, and required mentorship. They will receive a range of benefits, including guidance through the design process, expert mentorship and assessment, access to design services, design and engineering software/tools, and funding to cover prototyping expenses. Candidates can expect to spend an average of two to four hours per week split between flexibly scheduled meetings and self-paced learning modules. Mentors include industry professionals with expertise in research, design, engineering, business development, and more. Idea Lab candidates will work closely with Engineering for Change Fellows who will guide them through their technology development journey.
Keith Roe, former president of ASME and current chair of the philanthropy committee, and his wife Elizabeth “Brownie” Roe donated $100,000 to help launch the program. They invite others to join them in investing in Idea Lab, “so life changing innovations don’t get staled on the drawing board.” Potential partners and mentors can learn more on the ISHOW website.
This announcement was adapted from a statement by ASME, the umbrella organization under which Engineering for Change operates.