Mentoring programs promote collaborative learning environments that, in turn, foster the development of aspiring innovators. Mentors can provide access to networks, internships, and resources for education and professional growth. Experienced inventors who serve as mentors can also share insights about intellectual property (IP) protection. Because of these benefits, mentoring is especially important for women and those from other underrepresented groups in the innovation community, who often face barriers to opportunities that would advance their careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and their ability to obtain patents, commercialize their inventions, and start businesses.
Create a mentoring program
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) encourages companies and other organizations to start their own mentoring programs. We have developed a mentoring toolkit that provides information to help you start and maintain your program, including templates and forms.
Join a mentoring program
The Intellectual Property Owner’s Association (IPO) and the USPTO Women Entrepreneurs (WE) MENTEE Pilot Program is a collaborative program bringing together mentors and mentees to help encourage community building and empowerment of women inventors and entrepreneurs. This pilot program provides participants an opportunity to connect with those who are part of this international trade association made up of diverse companies, law firms, service providers and individuals in all industries and fields of technology that own, or are interested in, intellectual property rights. Paired participants will meet at least once a month for four months or more, if mutually desired. If you are interested in being a mentee, please fill out the IPO and USPTO WE MENTEE Pilot Program Application.
The USPTO’s partnerships with the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation emphasize mentorship and expanding access to free IP resources to help build inclusive innovation communities.
The NAI’s Global Academic Inventors Network (GAIN) connects seasoned academic inventors with college-level innovators using a matching algorithm. Mentees can review their matches and request consultations with the experts who align most closely with their goals.
The National Science and Technology Medals Foundation’s inSTEM Mentorship Program is a multi-year program for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups in STEM. This community-building program seeks to strengthen students majoring in STEM and runs through their entire undergraduate experience. Programs are available at Howard University and the University of Texas at Arlington, with other campuses pending. inSTEM mentors are influential and inspirational individuals who are known advocates for students from diverse communities, and they are also members of underrepresented groups. Experts from the USPTO participate as inSTEM mentors as well, sharing their knowledge about innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship with mentees.
You can access an online library of advice from inSTEM mentors via inSTEM Virtual.