The Life Sciences Fellowship

Develop executive-level skills in bringing a commercially viable Digital Health or Life Sciences product or service to market.

Register: Nov 9 info session

Submit your Expression of Interest


  • Launch and grow a startup to commercialize your product or service.

  • Get expertise and mentorship from leading experts and gain real-world experience to accelerate your potential.

  • Secure intellectual property, bring in further funding and grow your team to gain traction for your product or service.

Ideal Applicants

The program strives to invest in high potential projects and people. The ideal candidate:

  • Has advanced knowledge and deep technical expertise in a life science-related field.
  • Is developing a solution to an important unmet need.
  • Is eager to gain business development experience and skills to commercialize their solution.
  • Understands the commitment involved in becoming a founder/senior executive of a startup.
  • Is independent, disciplined, resilient and coachable.

Ideal Startups

Digital Health is a priority area for this competition. High-ranking applications that engage in any of the following will be prioritized:

  • Digital Health Technology – standalone software or integrated hardware and software systems that can utilize digital platforms (such as computers, smartphones, tablets and wearables etc.) to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens.
  • Data-Enabled Health Transformation - the creation, amalgamation, analysis, and application of large quantities of complex information to improve health, healthcare decision-making, or the wellbeing of citizens.

Life sciences applications/startups that do not have an obvious digital health focus (e.g., in healthcare, veterinary medicine, agriculture or wellness) are also encouraged to apply.

Program Funding & Support

Successful startups are eligible for:

  • Up to $200,000 in startup funding, allocated over two years toward:
  • Professional development programming
  • Life sciences community and lab space, including:
    • World-class equipped life sciences laboratory space
    • Mentorship from Expert Advisors.

Fellowship Expectations

Fellowship positions are up to two years, provided that sufficient technology and business milestones are met.

    • The fellows' main priority is to drive their startup towards bringing a commercially viable product or service to market, making significant progress in business development, customer discovery, market research, funding, business planning, financial modelling, and expanding their internal team and network of supportive advisors.
    • Some technical development is expected, but the fellow must balance business development with technical progress
    • A total of approximately one day per month is allocated to professional development workshops.

Startup Eligibility

To be eligible for the program, startups must:

  • Aim to deliver a technology-driven product or service to solve an unmet need in digital health or life sciences;
  • Have a tangible and timely plan to bring a commercially viable product or service to market;
  • Commit to meeting Essential Startup Milestones;
  • Incorporate in Alberta or nationally between January 1, 2021 and March 1, 2022. As your startup matures it may be eligible for additional Innovate Calgary funding programs like UCeed Health  UCEED Health.

Fellow Eligibility

To be eligible for the program, fellows must:

  • Commit as a full-time founding executive of their startup to bring the solution to market;
  • Be legally able to work in Canada by March 1, 2022;
  • Be committed as a full-time founding executive of their startup, driving business and technology development to bring the solution to market;
  • Fellowship companies do not need to be affiliated with the University of Calgary, but the fellow must reside in Alberta during the fellowship and maintain a company presence at the Life Sciences Innovation Hub


We will begin accepting Expressions of Interest for the Life Sciences Fellowship on October 1. The deadline to submit your EOI is November 15, 2021. Successful expressions of interest will be notified and invited to apply with next steps. Further details are below. Register for our info session on November 9 to learn more about the application process and how to craft a successful application.



How are applications evaluated?

Applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  1. Strength of the Solution:
    • Relevance: the extent to which the proposal has a clear digital health or life sciences focus.
    • Differentiation: the extent to which the technology is superior to current approaches with existing or planned intellectual property.
    • Viability of Technology: the extent to which the proposed product or service is technically viable and the timeline to a market-ready product or service is reasonable.
  2. Strength of the Market: extent to which the proposed product or service is commercially viable with sufficient market opportunity to support commercial activity.
  3. Strength of the Fellow and of the Team: extent and quality of the candidate's:
    • Entrepreneurial aims.
    • Leadership capacity to professionally represent the company to customers and investors.
    • Prior commitment to solution development.
    • Expertise to develop the technology towards a product or service.
How long is the fellowship?

Fellowships are up to two years, provided that sufficient technology and business milestones are met. The fellowship may be terminated if: the fellow can no longer participate full-time; the startup is acquired without the fellow continuing in a leadership role; the activity of the fellow or company diverges from the program objectives, or the fellow decides to terminate. Funding ceases when the fellowship is terminated.

Are there restrictions on eligible expenses in the Business and Technology budget?

Business and Technology expense funds will reimburse most business development expenses, including: operational expenses such as personnel; intellectual property costs; prototyping equipment, supplies and other costs; and market development costs. However, some exclusions include capital purchases, journal fees, degree, or certification costs.

Does the program require a University of Calgary affiliation?

Applicants do not need to be affiliated with the University of Calgary. We strongly encourage applicants from abroad to apply.

Are there any other important expectations/constraints for participation?
  • Important early deliverables are outlined in the Essential Startup Milestones
  • It is expected that all intellectual property related to the proposed product or service will be transferred into the startup.
    All fellowship startups must meet the revenue-sharing obligations of the institution where the technology was developed within 90 days of beginning the fellowship.
Will a Life Sciences Fellow be an employee of Innovate Calgary?
  • No. Life Sciences Fellows are executive-level employees of their own incorporated startup. There is no employer-employee relationship whatsoever between fellows and Innovate Calgary.
  • Fellows are expected to maintain a company presence or office at the Life Sciences Innovation Hub but are not employees of the LSIH.
What is the full-time expectation?
  • The fellowship program is founded on milestone-based accountability. Full-time commitment to startup activities is required to keep pace with program expectations and start-up milestones.
  • We recognize that some flexibility with start dates may be necessary for some individuals to wrap up current commitments (e.g., to finish and defend PhD). For exceptional candidates, we are open to discussing a flexible transition for the first 90 days of the program.
Are there any requirements for cofounder equity ownership in the startup?

The fellow must be a founding member of the startup and will own at least 25% or a simple majority (whichever is greater) of the shares outstanding in the venture.

Does Innovate Calgary take equity?
  • Participation in the fellowship program does not have any equity, royalty, or repayment obligations to Innovate Calgary or the University of Calgary. However, all fellowship startups must meet the revenue-sharing obligations of the institution where the technology was developed.
Who are the Expert Advisors?

Life Sciences Fellows will have access to up to 100 hours per year of consulting and mentorship from an Expert Advisors group. These advisors have extensive business experience and connections within the life sciences sector, with expertise in regulatory, finance, marketing, governance, business strategy, communications, and more.  

Review our Expert Advisor list here. 

Does Innovate Calgary take equity?

Participation in the Fellowship program itself does not have any equity, royalty, or repayment obligations to Innovate Calgary or the University of Calgary.

However, it is common to transfer intellectual property into the startup company. If the intellectual property originates at the University of Calgary, then the startup must meet the revenue-sharing obligations as stated in the University of Calgary’s Intellectual Property Policy. Similarly, if the Life Sciences startup company acquires intellectual property from another institution, it will have to comply with that institute’s policy.  The company must meet any revenue sharing obligations within 90 days of signing the Participation Agreement unless otherwise agreed to by Innovate Calgary.

Our Partners and Supporters

The Life Sciences Startup Fellowship is made possible in part through the support from Calgary Economic Development's Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, Western Economic Diversification, and Alberta Innovates.

 In recognition of their ongoing support of the Life Science Fellowship, we wish to acknowledge those life science community members who generously gave their time and expertise to help accelerate technology and business development of fellowship companies.

Souzan Armstrong, Gary Bantle, Elliot Gatt, Rohit Joshi, Scott Kraft (W21C), Pierre Lemire, Dennis Niebergal, Darrell Petras, Sandra Spencer, and Brad Thompson.