Innovating for healthcare impact

Catalyst: Innovating for Healthcare Impact

Spring 2020 Cohort

The Spring 2020 Cohort will participate in a 6 month immersive experience to develop innovation and research project proposals with high potential for healthcare impact (Phase I). Participants will work closely with a cross-disciplinary team of faculty mentors in a highly networked community of engineers, scientists, businesspeople, and clinicians. Using the Catalyst methodology for innovating for mission impact, participants work through a structured process to consider real-world needs, plausible solutions, and viable action plans to develop proposals that, if successful, will lead to a clear and specific benefit.

MIT linQ and the VA Health Care are partnering to solutions that improve patient outcomes by addressing high priority focus areas:

Access: How can technologies and processes support the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcomes? How do we ensure people gain the entry into the system they need? How can we work for underserved populations to deliver basic healthcare needs? How can we improve access to continuing care for people who are unable to make it to their closest hospital? 

Safety: How do we anticipate, detect early enough, and respond to potential problems in order to prevent negative consequences?  How can technologies and processes make it easier for caregivers to be efficient and effective?

Mental Health: How do we improve the quality of life for those who live with chronic mental health conditions? How do we prevent and improve outcomes for people with substance use disorder?  How can we better detect, diagnose, mitigate, and prevent mental health issues such as PTSD, TBI, and suicide? 


Mondays 9am–12pm
January 6 to June 29, 2020 (Phase I)

Experience highlights


Nucleate original need-driven research and venture opportunities with high potential to achieve health impact and without the constraints of a single lab or organization


Process driven by you. What you and your team develop during the spring is just the beginning. Past teams have launched start-ups, established new lines of research, and embarked on new career trajectories.


Mentored by cross-disciplinary experts from academic research, industry, and clinical care


Selected projects progress to Phase II in which scaling and commercialization are explored.

Who should join

Open to ALL in the Greater Boston area who are able to attend weekly Monday morning sessions on the MIT campus.

Several slots are reserved for clinicians from the VA Boston Health Care system.

A limited number of funded slots are available. They provide a stipend or partial salary support (at 20% of the NIH PGY 4 salary). Accepted candidates may inquire further.

We seek a multi-talented cohort, including:

  • Early stage professionals, postdocs, fellows, graduate students, clinical, and other professional degree candidates, advanced undergraduates, etc.
  • Engineers, scientists, clinicians, designers, entrepreneurs, MBAs, etc.
  • Anyone with interest and willingness to spend time in research, innovation, and health. No need to know anything about the focus areas.


  • Weekly sessions: Mondays from 9am to 12pm
  • January 6 to June 29, 2020 at MIT
  • Expected time commitment 10-12 hrs/week

The process this spring



Proof of Need

Identify, evaluate, and document unmet medical needs. Visit laboratories, talk with clinicians and explore the literature to create problem and need statements.



Proof of Opportunity

Identify and evaluate opportunities (need & solution idea). Work in teams for an in-depth analysis. Develop and document your opportunity.



Project Proposal

Develop a plan to launch a research project which outlines the milestones in a 12-18 month time frame. Present your project proposal (orally) to an Independent Advisory Panel.




Portfolio of 1-4 validated research opportunities, with real opportunity to transition to Phase II—exploration of funding and commercialization opportunities.

Apply to join

Catalyst: Innovating for Mission Impact
Fall 2019 Cohort

Applications due September 8, 11:59pm ET

First Session September 10

Information session September 3, 4–5pm
MIT Building E25 Room 119

Open to ALL in the Greater Boston area who are able to attend weekly Tuesday afternoon sessions on the MIT campus.

Course credit

MIT students and cross-registrants can receive course credit