Now Accepting Project Proposals from HHS Staff

We are currently accepting project proposals from HHS employees on a continual basis. We anticipate supporting 4-7 projects in 2015. To learn more about the application process, please visit our How to Apply tab.

We are not currently recruiting for External Entrepreneurs-In-Residence. For updates on new opportunities, please sign up below for the HHS IDEA Lab updates, and be sure to check this webpage periodically.

Tune into our Informational Webinar on March 23rd

Join us on March 23rd from 1-2 EST for an informational webinar about the HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Program!

This webinar is intended to provide an overview of the program for HHS staff who may be interested in submitting project applications. In addition to IDEA Lab staff, we will be joined by Kevin Larsen and Richard Gilbert (links go to their EIR projects), two alumni who will share about their experiences as Internal Entrepreneurs. The second half of the webinar will be dedicated to Q&A between participants, alumni, and IDEA Lab Staff.


Matching Ideas with Talent.

In 2012, the HHS Innovation Council established the HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Program (EIR) in response to the challenge of finding unique skill sets needed to solve the nation’s most critical challenges in health, health care, and the delivery of human services. The HHS EIR program partners federal staff (“Internal Entrepreneurs”) working on high-risk, high-reward projects with External Entrepreneurs-in-Residence for a 13-month fellowship. So far, the program has supported 13 projects, 61 Internal Entrepreneurs, and 15 External EIRs who have worked throughout nine of HHS’ Operating and Staff Divisions.

External EIRs bring new ideas and expertise in areas such as open innovation, agile development, human-centered design, and lean methodologies, which can be used to  approach complex projects at HHS. Many startup organizations have demonstrated that these methodologies, which emphasize rapid iteration and prototyping, accelerate impact and results. HHS seeks to promote these methods internally to address high-priority projects.

External EIRs help HHS achieve its mission in new and efficient ways. HHS EIR projects have the highest levels of support from leaders at HHS and the White House. Additionally, EIR teams engage in networking, mentorship, and meetings with leaders in venture capital, lean startup, business, technology, and innovation.

Purpose of HHS EIR Program

The HHS EIR program helps HHS Operating and Staff divisions identify and hire external talent (“External Entrepreneurs-in-Residence”) to work on one year projects.

External EIRs can help HHS staff complete a project more efficiently relative to other HHS projects, while bringing new skills or methodologies that HHS employees can apply to future projects.

Why Apply to HHS EIR Program?

For prospective internal entrepreneurs, participation in the HHS EIR program allows:

  • Access to an external pool of individuals who do not normally apply for government positions
  • Project support from the highest levels of HHS leadership
  • Access to a network of internal and external innovators, including current and former participants in the HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, HHS Innovator-in-Residence, and HHS Ignite programs
  • Support and freedom to incorporate new approaches to reduce time, lower cost and improve customer satisfaction for your program/process
  • A suite of tools typically not available to staff including a secure cloud environment for app development and testing as well as GitHub access
  • Assistance with the hiring process for the External EIR

For prospective external entrepreneurs-in-residence, participation in the program provides:

  • The opportunity to work on some of the most pressing challenges in health care
  • Project support from the highest levels of HHS leadership
  • Insight into government and access to an extensive network of contacts across HHS
  • Access to a network of government innovators, including current and former participants in the HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, HHS Innovator-in-Residence, and HHS Ignite programs

Internal Entrepreneur Eligibility

Any HHS employee can submit a project proposal and participate in the HHS Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program as an “Internal Entrepreneur.”

The Internal Entrepreneurs are talented HHS employees who seek to test new methodologies to solve problems within government. The Internal Entrepreneur Project Lead dedicates approximately 25% of his/her time to the project and is committed to project implementation following the departure of the External Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR).

Project Eligibility

Only HHS employees may propose a project. Any idea or identified problem can be the subject of a project; however, projects that are a good fit for the HHS EIR Program typically have the following characteristics:

  • High priority for the participating HHS Operating / Staff Division with the potential to affect major change within the organization
  • Ability to be implemented in 6-12 months
  • Can uniquely benefit from input from outside entrepreneurial talent, and/or experts in areas such as open innovation, agile development or lean startup
  • Strong support from the HHS Operating / Staff Division leadership
  • Participation of outstanding existing HHS Operating / Staff Division employees as Internal Entrepreneurs
  • Committed funding from the HHS Operating / Staff Division to support the External EIR and ongoing implementation after the External EIR departs

External EIR Eligibility

Anyone except current federal employees may apply to be an External EIRs. External EIRs are passionate, talented professionals outside of government with a demonstrated track record of entrepreneurship and innovation. External EIRs may be academics, policymakers, business gurus, or non-profit leaders who have demonstrated a significant record of innovative achievement in their field.

Typical characteristics of External EIRs include:

  • Advanced degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Innovative and entrepreneurial ability and potential – as demonstrated by leading innovative processes and/or solutions – specific entrepreneurial or start-up activity is particularly desirable
  • Minimum 5 years’ experience designing, developing, and implementing new ventures, including a track record of taking risks to develop new products and/or solutions
  • Expertise in open innovation, agile development, human-centered design lean methodologies, and/or iterative program design
  • Experience in organizational development and executive-level decision making, particularly around change management and/or the introduction of disruptive technologies or practices into an organization
  • Strong analytical and research skills and a demonstrated capacity for creative thinking
  • Experience measuring program impact, including quantitative analysis skills
  • Excellent communication and leadership skills

Overview of Selection Process

Step 1

HHS staff submit project proposals that are reviewed and scored by a panel of experts using the criteria included below. Project teams for the top-scoring projects are invited for an interview with HHS IDEA Lab staff. Following the interviews, finalist projects are ranked and submitted to the CTO and Secretary for selection.

Step 2

Following project selection, HHS IDEA Lab solicits External EIR candidates by tapping its unique network of outside innovators. An internal expert panel reviews and ranks applicants using review criteria developed by the project team. The Internal Entrepreneurs working on the project team make the final EIR selection.

Submit your Project Idea

We accept project applications continuously for HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence  and anticipate accepting 4-7 projects in 2015.

In the application, you will be asked to provide the following information:

  • Please identify an Executive Sponsor, project lead and project participants.
  • Please provide a short summary about each of the Internal Entrepreneur associated with this project and an estimate the amount of time each Internal Entrepreneur can commit to the project.
  • What is the main problem this project is attempting to solve at HHS? Why is this project a high priority for your agency?
  • Who are the key internal and external stakeholders for the project?
  • What is the desired outcome for this project 6 to 12 months from now?
  • What specific skill sets are desired for an External Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) and what is the proposed role of the External EIR? Explain why the project cannot be completed without an External EIR?
  • What support do you have from Operating /Staff Division leadership to complete this project?
  • Do you have an FTE and funding available to support an External EIR for this project? Please describe and estimate the resources and budget needed to complete the project (please assume that the External EIR will be paid at the same level as Internal Entrepreneurs and consider possible travel costs for the External EIR).
  • What is the plan for continuing to implement the project following the departure of the External EIR?

Apply to be an External Entrepreneur-in-Residence

We are not currently recruiting for External EIRs. Please sign up for the HHS IDEA Lab mailing list and check this website periodically for updates on new opportunities.

Stay Up-to-Date

Stay up-to-date on open EIR positions and other program announcements by entering your email address below and subscribing to our email list.

Contact Information

Julie [dot] Schneider@ hhs [dot] gov

More Information

Check out recent press about HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence:

View all blog posts related to the HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Program

Frequently Asked Questions

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