Duke Engineering Entrepreneurship Program

Graduates of doctoral programs in Biomedical Engineering are increasingly interested in entrepreneurship as a career path.

Duke’s  Engineering Entrepreneurship Program (DEEP) with the Biomedical Engineering Department addresses the emerging need to equip participants with the skills needed to start technology-based companies based on their research. 

For selected applicants, the program provides one year of salary support through the first year of their new venture. In addition, it provides hands-on mentoring and coaching from a group of entrepreneurial advisors based both within Duke University as well as those engaged within the broader Duke community.

As a condition of entry into the program, candidates will agree to engage in the following activities:

  1. Entrepreneurial Advising Team - In collaboration with Dr. Roarke Horstmeyer, participants will form an informal small team for support and guidance whom they will meet with monthly.

  2. Entrepreneur's Workshop Series - This series of in-depth workshops includes Founders' stories, basics of corporate law, introduction to intellectual property, and other topics essential for budding entrepreneurs

  3. Just in Time Seminars - This series of one-hour lectures, hosted by the BRiDGE program, offers useful insights to new entrepreneurs. Recent topics include user-focused design, term sheet negotiation, and advances in rapid-prototyping.

  4. Entrepreneurship and Founders Education(EngEn) - Participants will engage in relevant short courses, including Startup Fundamentals & Strategy and Needs Finding courses. These courses are ideal training to support the transition from academic research to building a commercial product.

  5. Pitch Deck Preparation – Participants will prepare and deliver a company pitch deck and supporting materials. In-depth coaching from a variety of resources within Duke will be made available to help build a detailed business plan and pitch deck.

  6. Company Formation - With support from their Entrepreneurial Advising Team, participants will learn about the steps required to create their company.

  7. Identify and Seek Funding – With support from their Entrepreneurial Advising Team, participants will prepare to apply for suitable funding opportunities to support their company’s growth.

Resources Available

  • Initial funding: to support company-related expenses up to $5,000
  • BRiDGE Space: Participants can request to receive desk space and full access to shared equipment in the BRiDGE incubator in the Chesterfield Building.
  • Entrepreneurial Advising Team: Programparticipants will be encouraged to form an informal small group whom they can ask questions of as they begin their entrepreneurial journey
  • Mentor In Residence (MIR): The Duke Office of Licensing and Ventures employs MIRs to support the commercialization of Duke-owned IP. Participants in this program will have support from an MIR
  • Entrepreneurial resources at Duke: Program participants will have access to resources made available by a variety of entrepreneurial programs within Duke, including Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Duke Engineering Entrepreneurship, among others. 
  • Application to D-FAN: Program participants will be supported in applying to the Duke Founder's Advancement Network. This program matches Duke's most promising Founders with teams of exceptional business mentors. Unlike other mentoring programs, D-FAN focuses on the growth and success of the Founder.
  • Access to Funding: Program participants will be supported in seeking funding and investment from relevant Duke, regional and national funding and investment groups, such as the Duke Incubation Fund, government and state (NCBC) grants and the Duke Angel Network


Applicants must be:

  1. A recent PhD graduate of the Duke BME department, or from a laboratory at Duke whose PI has a primary appointment within the BME department, with less than 2 years of research experience at the time they enter the program, or
  2. Plan to graduate with a PhD from Duke, from a lab whose PI has a primary appointment within the BME department, within the current academic year.

Application Instructions

Each application must include in a single PDF file:

  • A completed application form, consisting of responses to 13 short-format questions. Please complete this either as a Word or Google document.
  • The applicants resume or CV
  • (Optional) A short slide deck (<10 slides) that contains additional supporting information about their current or envisioned company. Suggestion: try using the Guy Kawasaki pitch deck slide format.
  • Please email all application material to: roarke.w.horstmeyer@duke.edu

Key dates

  • Application submission deadline: November 1, 2023
  • Announcement of awardees: December 1, 2023
  • Earliest commencement of program: January 8, 2024
  • Final date for commencement of program: May 15, 2024

Award information

Initial support will be for one year, with the opportunity to compete for a second year.

Prior Awardees

Hunter Newman, PhD

Awarded: 2022

Company: Osteocure Therapeutics, Inc.

Description: OsteoCure Therapeutics Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on developing novel therapeutics to accelerate and promote bone fracture healing and prevent nonunions.

Mark Draelos, PhD

Awarded: 2021

Company: TBD

Description: Developing robotic technology for automated eye exams

Christian Viehland, PhD

Awarded: 2018 (started 2019)

Company: Theia Imaging

Description: Theia Imaging is developing easy-to-use, compact, portable eye imaging systems for use in infants, children and those unable to cooperate for conventional tabletop clinical eye diagnostics.

Stefan Roberts, PhD

Awarded: 2018

Company: inSoma Bio

Description: At inSoma Bio we borrow nature’s own designs to develop unique products for reconstructive plastic surgery. Our product enables surgeons to use a person’s own tissue instead of synthetic implants and fillers to improve procedures like breast and facial reconstruction.

Kelli Luginbuhl, PhD

Awarded: 2017

Company: Isolere Bio

Description: Isolere Bio delivers tailored manufacturing solutions designed to accelerate development to the clinical, reduce cost and challenges of scaling from clinic to commercial, and improve global access to life changing medicines and vaccines.