Overview

Pairing Internal Ideas with External Expertise. The HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Program brings private sector, specialized expertise into the Department to work with federal staff on complex, high-impact projects over a one year time frame.

HHS has strong assets and leadership to create and develop new products but, in some instances, lacks the expertise to get us there. The HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Program aims to bring external ideas and talent in areas including open innovation, agile development, and lean methodologies to rapidly create, develop, engage and accelerate innovation and problem solving within the Department. Startup organizations have demonstrated that rapid iteration between various versions or features of a product can yield successful results, and HHS would like to promote these methods internally to address high-priority projects.

External entrepreneurs have the unique opportunity to help the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services achieve its mission in new and efficient ways. HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence projects have the highest levels of support from leaders at HHS and the White House. Additionally, teams participate in networking, mentorship and “lunch and learn” events with some of the most recognizable people in venture capital, startups, business, technology and innovation.

History of the HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Program

In 2010 the HHS Innovation Council established the HHS Innovation Fellows Program in response to difficulties in finding expertise and unique skill sets necessary to solve some of the critical challenges we face in health, health care, and the delivery of human services. In 2012, that program was recognized by serving as the model for the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program.

We have since renamed the program simply the HHS entrepreneurs-in-residence program, and we are currently in our 3rd cohort. In total thus far, 18 external entrepreneurs have been brought on to work on 16 internal projects.


Eligibility for Internal Entrepreneurs

All HHS employees are eligible to apply to be an Internal Entrepreneur. Each HHS Entrepreneurs project is sponsored by an Internal Entrepreneur.

Internal Entrepreneurs are talented HHS employee who wants to change the way government works and test new methodologies to solve problems. Internal Entrepreneurs must be able to dedicate sufficient time to the project and continue project implementation after the departure of the External Entrepreneur. The project must be a well-defined problem of high importance (with a goal of some quantitative or semi-quantitative measures of success/failure).

Eligibility for External Entrepreneurs

Anyone except current federal employees are eligible to apply to be an Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

Our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence are passionate, talented professionals external to the federal government with a demonstrated track record of entrepreneurship and innovation in areas such as business development, business models, design thinking, evaluating and financing companies, evaluating new ventures, technology product development or marketing. They may be academics, policymakers, business gurus, or non-profit leaders who have demonstrated a significant record of achievement in their field.

Generally, those interested in applying to become Entrepreneurs-in-Residence within HHS will have the following qualifications:

  • Possess an advanced degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience;
  • Have an innovative and entrepreneurial ability and potential – as demonstrated by leading innovative processes and/or solutions – specific entrepreneurial or start-up activity is particularly desirable;
  • Have a minimum of 5 years’ experience designing, developing, and implementing new ventures, including a track record of taking risks to develop new products and/or solutions;
  • Have expertise in open innovation, agile development, and/or lean methodologies, and iterative program design;
  • Have 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;
  • Have strong analytical and research skills and a demonstrated capacity for creative thinking;
  • Have experience in program evaluation methodologies, including quantitative analysis skills; and
  • Have excellent communication and leadership skills.

Eligible Projects

Only HHS employees may propose a project: Any idea or identified problem can be the subject of a project. The following characteristics define a project that would be a good fit for an Entrepreneur-in-Residence:

  • 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 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; and
  • Committed funding from the HHS Operating / Staff Division to support the Entrepreneur-in-Residence and ongoing implementation after the entrepreneur departs.

Reviewing Criteria and Selection Process

There is a two step selection process:

Step 1
HHS staff submit proposals which are then reviewed by a subset of the HHS Innovation Council. The projects are rank ordered based on reviewer scores and passed on to the Chief Technology Officer and Secretary for final selection. The Secretary makes all final project selections.

Step 2
Following the selection of the  projects, the HHS IDEA Lab solicits applications for the Entrepreneur-in-Residence positions. All applicants are reviewed by a panel of the Innovation Council, but the Internal Entrepreneurs overseeing the projects make the final selection of which external entrepreneur is the best fit.

How to Apply

We are not currently accepting applications. Stay up-to-date on when we are accepting applications by subscribing to our mailing list.


Application Period

We are not accepting applications at this time. But stay up-to-date on when we are accepting applications by 


Contact Information

Julie [dot] Schneider@ hhs [dot] gov

Frequently Asked Questions

How are Internal Entrepreneurs compensated?

Internal Entrepreneurs will continue to be paid under the same compensation structure prior to joining the HHS Entrepreneurs Program.

How are the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence compensated?

It is up to the participating Operating / Staff Division to determine the compensation for the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. The entrepreneurs will be brought in as Term Appointments and will receive the same employee benefits as any other Federal employee: FEHB, FEGLI Programs, and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS); Annual and sick leave.

How many positions are available?

For each cohort, the Department will select up to 20 Internal Entrepreneurs (resulting in 4 – 6 projects) and up to 6 – 8 External Entrepreneurs, depending on the need.

What happens if I am selected?

Internal Entrepreneurs have been notified and selected to participate in the second cohort. More information on who the Internal Entrepreneurs can be found under the “Who” tab.

The External Entrepreneur application process has recently closed and applicants will be notified in August/September 2013 and can be expected to start as early as September/October 2013.

Do your Entrepreneurs-in-Residence have to relocate?

In order to maximize the effectiveness of the project, we recommend that individuals selected as HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence relocate to the project site for the duration of the program.