Innovation Scholars

The Innovation Scholars Program at St. Olaf College offers an Interim opportunity for selected undergraduate students to work on a team to evaluate projects at the intersection of science, business, medicine, and entrepreneurship at early-stage medical companies in Minnesota. Innovation Scholars programming has two possible formats, depending on the year: the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program (MISP) or the Innovation Partners Program (IPP).

In the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program, students evaluate projects submitted to the Mayo Clinic Ventures, the arm of Mayo responsible for evaluating potential business opportunities for discoveries and inventions created by Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers. This program is an initiative between a select group of Minnesota Private Colleges and the Mayo Clinic, with funding through the Medtronic Foundation. The MISP exposes students to the multitude of dimensions involved in bringing an idea to the marketplace — science, medicine, economics, business, marketing, bioethics — with real innovations and discoveries in real time. The program’s three main objectives are:

  • To assist Mayo Clinic in the assessment of new products and innovations in development;
  • To provide research opportunities for undergraduate science and business students;
  • To provide leadership development opportunities for graduate students.

By providing Mayo Clinic with in-depth reports and analyses, students gain intellectual and research experience in diverse fields of science, medicine and health care delivery, including molecular and cell biology, physiology, clinical diagnostics, surgery, patient education and kinesiology. Students also learn about patents, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship as well as financial and market analyses. Each team is also charged with considering the ethics of their project and discussing ethical dilemmas and concerns. Alumni frequently report that the program opens their eyes to new career pathways and that the MISP plays a prominent role in interviews for employment, graduate school and medical school. This program targets students with a background in the natural sciences, economics, management studies or mathematics.

The Innovation Partners Program offers an Interim opportunity for selected undergraduate students (along with an MBA graduate student from another institution) to work on a team to evaluate projects at the intersection of science, business, medicine, and entrepreneurship at early-stage medical companies in Minnesota. Junior and senior undergraduate students from across disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Four students will be selected for this project. The team typically includes a minimum of one Economics major and one STEM major. The IPP is run by the team behind the Mayo Innovation Scholars and Norway Innovation Scholars programs. The Innovation Partners Program is designed to engage student teams from Minnesota’s private colleges and universities in project work for early-stage medical technology companies in Minnesota.

In both the MISP and the IPP, a team of St. Olaf College students will work together on a predetermined project, and teams will be composed of students representing a variety of science and economics backgrounds who demonstrate strong analytical and communication skills and success as an effective team member. The two Interim experiences are offered through the Biology 395 course, taught by Dr. Kevin Crisp in St. Olaf Biology Department, and the student team in MISP will also be mentored by an MBA graduate student.

Only the IPP program will be offered for Interim 2023.

Project Description

  • Time: Interim (January) 2023
  • A stipend of $1500 for interim participants
  • Represent St. Olaf in a team of four
  • Information Sessions: Thursday, Sept 22, 2022, 11:30am – 12:30pm, TOH 200
  • Application Deadline for Interim 2023: Friday, Sept 30, 2022, 11:59pm Central time


Students selected for the Innovation Scholars 2023 interim cohort will be expected to participate in several pre-experience on-campus team meetings and possible required virtual meetings with program mentors outside St. Olaf. Additionally, the team members must attend other orientation sessions for which travel (provided by the College) may be required. Teams participating during the 2023 Interim will share the results of their research in early March 2023.


Interim participants will receive a $1500 stipend upon completion of the project.

How to Apply


  • Interim Program: Junior or Senior
  • Major or concentration in any of the natural sciences, nursing, economics, management or media studies, mathematics, or with other relevant academic background/experience
  • Strong academic record
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to extend one’s knowledge base to the topic at hand and to conceptualize and frame relevant questions
  • Previous experience in research preferred but not required
  • Evidence of effectiveness as part of a team
  • Understanding and respect for confidentiality
  • Willingness to commit time and energy to the project

Application Materials

  • Resume
  • Unofficial transcript – Log in to the SIS go to grades -> select all years/terms -> export as a PDF file (one way to do this is by going to a print screen and clicking on “view as PDF”, or “view in preview”)
  • Letter explaining interest in this initiative, de scribing background and specific experiences related to the project, and providing an example of a team on which the student has been an effective member
  • Name of one faculty member to be used as a reference, indicated in the letter

Application Process

  1. Login to Handshake via the directions next to the login field.  Search for “Innovation Scholars Program” under the job and internship postings tab.
  2. Save your resume, unofficial transcript & cover letter to a common location
  3. Upload your resume “under resume”, your transcript under “unofficial transcript”, and your letter explaining interest under “writing sample” (all under the “Documents” tab on the blue menu bar).
  4. On the right-hand panel, select your resume, transcript & personal statement – click “Submit”.

Interviews of Selected Students

A team of St. Olaf personnel will conduct formal interviews in Fall 2022 (dates TBD) after review of applications.  The final selection will be based on academic background and related experience with care taken to create the appropriate mix of academic backgrounds on each team.