Seed Grant Applicant Resource


***The IAP seed grants are currently closed.



Decision: November 4th



Focus of Seed Grants

The Legatum Center seed grants are intended to assist teams in developing for-profit enterprises in a low-income country.

Conditions of Eligibility

Legatum Center seed grants are awarded to undergraduate and graduate students at MIT who wish to develop innovative, for-profit enterprises in low-income countries. Individuals or teams may apply, although only one application is needed per team. At least one member of the team must still be considered a current MIT student when they return from the trip. All travel and reimbursements must be submitted through the MIT representative on the team.  Previous seed grant teams or their individual members are welcome to apply again, but must be prepared to show that their project has advanced considerably in the interim.

Eligible Grant Expenses

Travel, market research, prototype development, pilot testing, and other expenses that directly advance the project development are all eligible grant expenses and can be reimbursed up to the amount of the Seed Grant. All monies must be spent and all travel and purchases must be completed during the allotted seed grant award period (i.e., by August 31 for summer seed grant recipients, and by January 31 for IAP seed grant recipients) to be eligible for reimbursement.  We cannot fund the employment of independent contractors.  ONLY economy class tickets will be refunded.  Eitther your receipt/e-ticket or boarding pass must show "economy or cabin class" or show a code for economy or cabin class.

*Important note on other funding sources: When you submit your receipts and final report you must let the Legatum Center know of any other funding that you received for your project and the contact information for the other sponsor(s) so we may coordinate your reimbursement. Failure to do so will result in a recipient having to repay the excess award amount.

Application Process

In order to apply for a Legatum Seed Grant you must complete all required fields on the online application. We do not require letters of recommendation for seed grants.

A committee will examine all applications and finalists will be contacted to set up an interview. Interviews will take place at the Legatum Center (E48-4FL).  Application link and timeline can be found on this page above when the application is open.

Guidelines for Reimbursement and Advances

Please be aware of the guidelines for seed grants. Incomplete or wrong information, missing receipts and delay in project report will delay your reimbursement. You are responsible for submitting all grant deliverables (see below) and your forms and receipts for reimbursement of funds to the Legatum Center within two weeks of completing your project.

If you are purchasing materials or goods locally (in Massachusetts) with your grant, please remember that we are tax-exempt in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We will send you a tax-exempt form ST5 to use when making your purchases in Massachusetts. MIT will not reimburse for tax if you do not use the form. You will have to pay for these items with your own money and submit the original itemized receipts and the request for payment form to be reimbursed.

Items that are purchased for more than $1,000 become the property of MIT while you are a student.

Travel and accommodations:

Please review the traveler checklist before making travel plans.  You can purchase tickets through the one of the three MIT approved travel agencies: Travel CollaborativeCarlson Wagonlit Travel, or OT&T and coordinate with us upfront to pay for the ticket. Up to 75% of your seed grant can be applied directly to the purchase of your ticket(s). If you prefer to use another travel organization, you will have to purchase your ticket(s) with your own money. Upon return, you must submit your receipts and supporting documents for reimbursement of the agreed-upon amount. To process your reimbursement, you will be asked to submit original itemized receipts and boarding passes (for travel). For accommodations and other travel-related expenses, you can purchase the necessary services yourself and submit the original itemized receipts and travel form for reimbursement, or you can request a travel card. Requests for the use of a travel card must be submitted at least ten days in advance. You must obtain receipts for ALL expenses and submit them.  If you are traveling to an area where it is difficult to get receipts, please stop by the office and we will provide you with receipt books.

You are responsible for your own travel arrangements, travel documents (including any visas), safety, insurance, and personal health. Please be sure to have the appropriate documentation and shots before your trip. We recommend that you consult the Centers for Disease Control and State Department websites. For all teams traveling, we expect you to comply with the MIT Horizon travel program.  If you are already registered with Horizon for this trip, you do not have to register a second time.

Grant Deliverables and Expectations

Upon completion of their award, recipients of Legatum Center seed grants are expected to:

  1. Submit a 1-2 page report detailing how the seed grant money advanced the project, and what opportunities exist for further advancement. We will provide you with the template for the report. We may some or all of the information in the reports as well as the photos submitted to meet the requirements of outside funders.
  2. Submit at least 5 high-resolution photographs in .jpg form from work done on your project. (Captions should be provided in a Word document as an attachment.) Examples of encouraged photographs include photos of the technology and tools relevant to your project, photos of you and your team at work in the field/lab, photos of the constituents who will benefit from your project, photos of the geographic region in which your project takes place, etc.
  3. [optional] Participate in a post-grant event where you will have the opportunity to share your project with the greater MIT community (typically a poster session).

All submissions (photos, optional videos, and reports) can be used by the Legatum Center and (if a WUF grant) Western Union Foundation at its discretion, without restriction. There are two media waivers that must be signed - the stardard Legatum Center waiver and (for WUF grants) the Western Union Foundation media waiver.  Intellectual property is retained by seed grant recipients. Please remember that the report and photos are due within two weeks of completing your seed grant-based work. 

For further questions, please contact legatum@mit.edu