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MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship


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Seed Grant program for developing world entrepreneurs


Thank you for your interest in the Seed Grant Program!

Seed Grants are available through the generosity of the Legatum Center’s supporters so that MIT students may explore innovation-driven entrepreneurship opportunities in the developing world. By supporting early stage entrepreneurial leaders at MIT, the Seed Grant Program enables students to experience opportunities on the ground so they are prepared to address real challenges and create solutions that have the potential to drive economic and social progress in frontier markets.

The Legatum Center offers Seed Grant application and funding cycles for the Independent Activities Period and summer vacation.



In order to be eligible for a Seed Grant, applicants must be current MIT students:

  • Enrolled as a student in an MIT degree program at the time of application and enrolled as an MIT student at the time of Seed Grant funded travel and/or prototype construction.
  • Committed to exploring opportunities for innovation-driven entrepreneurship and pursuing a venture during their time as an MIT student and after graduation
  • Seed Grant awards must be used and travel vouchers must be completed before the student graduates from his or her MIT degree program.

The Legatum Center does not award Seed Grants for travel to High or Extreme risk countries, cities, or regions as described in the MIT Travel Risk Policy (link:…).

Applicant Criteria

We are seeking self-motivated visionaries who are exploring opportunities for high-impact entrepreneurship in the developing world. Applicants may be in either ideation or exploration or execution mode—actively building prototypes and piloting their models.

With a Legatum Center Seed Grant you may:

  • Travel to a prospective market to learn more about your customers’ challenge(s) and the local business context;
  • Conduct primary market research or pilot a beta version of your product or service with your customer market in order to learn how well the product or service addresses a challenge; and
  • Explore opportunities to adapt an innovation to increase access to services, generate employment, and spread prosperity across developing markets.

Proposal Criteria

  1. Vision – We are looking for projects with a clear vision and well thought out plan for how the funding will be used and a strategy for preparing and executing your field trip or prototype construction. We want you to use the seed grant to explore opportunities for entrepreneurship in the developing world and transform ideas into action.
  2. Impact-driven – We are looking for ideas focused in developing world markets that not only have the potential to accelerate economic progress (by creating jobs and increasing the average income per person) but also to accelerate social progress.
  3. Innovation-driven – We are looking for you to discover, build, and scale ideas centered on new concepts that promote a competitive advantage based on an innovative technology, business model, or policy initiative.

 Application process

  • Online Application: The application includes multiple choice, short answer, and long answer questions about your qualifications and your proposed project. You must also include an itemized budget.
  • Review: MIT faculty and staff and industry and geography experts review applications.
  • Interviews: Strong applications that meet the proposal criteria will be invited to participate in an interview in November. If applicants are unable to attend in person, they may have an opportunity to interview via phone or Skype.
  • Notification: Successful applicants will be notified in November for IAP Seed Grants and in April for summer Seed Grants.
  • Re-applicants: Please note that students who have applied for Legatum Center Seed Grants in the past, regardless of whether they received an award, are eligible to apply for Seed Grants again. Previous submissions will not be reviewed.

Get Stuff Done Clinics

Seed Grantees are expected to participate in three clinics during the fall semester to be eligible for an IAP award and three clinics during the spring term to be eligible for a summer award. The Get Stuff Done Clinics are offered by the Legatum Center, Martin Trust Center, Priscilla King Gray Center, MISTI, D-Lab, Radius, CoLab, and Sandbox Innovation Fund. Note: You do not need to have completed all three clinics before the application deadline.

A note on Seed Grant disbursement

With the award notification, you will receive information about the travel, lodging, meal, business meeting, ground transportation, and prototyping supplies, among other categories, for which you are eligible for reimbursement. To defray the costs of travel, award recipients may have the option of reserving round trip economy class airfare on an Institute travel card.

Upon completion of travel, the business pilot, or the prototype, awardees must submit a report on their learnings, complete a travel voucher, and participate in a poster session to share their progress with MIT’s community of developing world entrepreneurs.

Seed Grant awards must be used for the specified award cycle. Travel vouchers and reimbursement requests must be completed within two weeks of completing the trip.