WPI Tinkerbox provides seed funding for WPI student-initiated innovation and entrepreneurship ideas (MQPs, graduate research and similar projects may also qualify). Grant recipients will have access to mentors, workshops that will provide customized “just-in-time” skills and events.

Seed funding range: $500-$5,000

Welcome to Tinkerbox Presentation - Requirements & Logistics

  • WPI Tinkerbox Program Structure
    • The funding that you are given is distributed through reimbursements.
      • A reimbursement typically takes 2-3 weeks to process.
  • Eligibility
    • WPI degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students and teams that have a start up idea that they are working on or want to start working, or teams that have an IQP or MQP idea or solution that they would like to prototype are eligible to apply.
    • Teams can have undergraduate or graduate students from any department at WPI, as well as non-student and non-WPI members.
    • A team must have at least one full-time WPI student in a leadership role.
    • All students participating in the program must be in good academic standing.
    • Teams must disclose other sources of funding.
    • You are still eligible for WPI Tinkerbox as long as your prior or concurrent funding totals under $50K.
  • Application Process
    • Submit an online application and provide:
      • A clear description of the problem that your idea addresses
      • A clear description of the proposed solution
      • A short description of your project that can be shared publicly
      • A description of the team members and their skills
      • A high-level project plan, including milestones
      • A description of achievements to date.
      • If you previously received WPI Tinkerbox fund please detail how the funds were used and the milestones reached or learning gained.
      • A budget plan showing how you will use The Tinkerbox funds
    • Decisions will be sent by email and will include:
      • Feedback from reviewers
      • The awarded $ amount if the group decided to award you $, or
      • An invitation to the funding board, along with the max amount that you are allowed to request
      • In some limited cases we may ask you to come in for an interview prior to making a decision
    • Funding Board ($5K application only):
      • If you are invited to the Funding Board meeting you will need to present the problem you are addressing and your proposed solution
      • Presentations are 5 minutes with 10 minutes of questions
      • Decisions will be sent out with feedback and the $ amount awarded
  • Expectations

    WPI Tinkerbox Cohort III will launch in Winter of 2020.

    Should your project be chosen, your team will be required to satisfy the following requirements:

    • Attend a kick-off session
    • Actively participate in a mentoring session once a month (attendance and participation at all mentoring sessions is mandatory)
    • Submit a monthly status report and final report
    • Attend a showcase at the end of your cohort
    • Take advantage of as many of the resources that we provide as you can
  • Guidelines for use of WPI Tinkerbox Funds

    To help you prepare a budget for your application, please follow these guidelines for permitted use of funds:

    • Allowed Expenses (purchases must have been made after the award notification and before the end of the Cohort):

    o Software licenses (if it can’t be obtained for free)

    • Hardware parts & materials
    • Conference fees if you are attending to meet with potential customers and conduct customer/market research (within reason – must be in the $200-$500 range)
    • Domestic travel
    • Market research expenses; expenses incurred (including meals and coffee/tea) to meet with prospective customers or subjects of market research
    • Expenses That Are Not Allowed:
      • Gifts, alcohol, and items not directly related to the team project
      • Team dinners, meals, outings
      • Tax, including sales tax and franchise taxes
      • Personal computers or smart phones. We can work with you to provide AWS and Google Cloud credits, and they should be requested when computer resources are needed for the product development.
      • Education courses outside of WPI
      • Legal fees
      • Coworking space rental. WPI is full of places to meet and work together.
      • Uber, Lyft, or other private means of transportation. Teams should use public transportation in the local area.
      • Outside Developers and Contractors
  • Honest Broker
    • WPI’s Tinkerbox does not take equity in student companies
    • Students and teams do not give up any rights to intellectual property (IP) through participation in the program
    • Funding for WPI Tinkerbox (and other programs) is possible because of the deep commitment of alumni and friends to WPI’s mission such as the Women’s Impact Network
    • If you would like to pay-it-forward, consider joining Gompei’s circle. It’s a pledge to remember WPI in the future and support programs like WPI Tinkerbox.

WPI Tinkerbox is powered by the generous support of WPI’s President’s Office and The Women’s Impact Network