Watson Incubator

Preparing next-generation, impact-driven entrepreneurs to launch ventures and unleash a lifetime of impact.


Deadline to apply to the Spring 2020 Watson Incubator is October 1, 2019.

The Spring 2020 cohort runs from January 18, 2020 to May 6, 2020.

A lifetime of impact begins.

The Watson Incubator is a program for college students, recent graduates, and gap-year students with an early-stage social venture/project and a passion for social impact.

During the 4-month program, the cohort of 30 young social innovators convene in Boulder, Colorado to tackle the greatest challenges facing the world. From climate change to income inequality and from political oppression to access to water, students enrolled in the Watson Incubator leverage trainingmentorship, and community to unleash a lifetime of impact.


Courses and workshops focused on entrepreneurship, leadership, and hard skills that put theory to practice.


Every student is paired with mentors in their field to challenge their assumptions, enhance their perspective, and expand their impact.


Students join a diverse cohort with members from every corner of the globe, a variety of experiences, and a common goal to impact the world.

Hands-on and interactive courses

Students complete three courses during the Watson Incubator.

Transformative Entrepreneurship
This course is designed to lead students through the process of building out their social ventures and is divided into three sections: Business Model Validation, Funder Readiness, and Team Building.

Transformative Action
This course guides students through the process of overcoming key challenges faced during the social entrepreneurial process and in the social change sector. The course is based on the principles of “Transformative Action”, which is defined as new methods of solving society’s problems, looking beyond traditional methods of social change and covering topics and skills ranging from: positive psychology, fragility to resilience, stagnation to creation and much more.

Watson Lab
Students learn and apply skills to their ventures through guided experiments and hands-on assignments. Each Lab is designed for students to apply new skills and refine existing skills to develop and strengthen their social ventures. Lab is divided into three modules, or ‘checkpoints’: Clarity: Developing a clear strategy, vision, and roadmap; Money: Rallying the resources necessary to grow impact, practicing the fundraising process, and building relationships with funders; and People: Developing the skills, network, and frameworks to build and strengthen a team.

In addition to the courses outlined above, students experience an interactive Master Course led by a seasoned entrepreneur or leader who is invited to campus each week.

Master Course Teachers

We have the privilege of hosting some of the world’s foremost leaders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners as Master Course Teachers at the Watson Incubator. Master Course Teachers include outstanding individuals like:

Jerry White

Jerry is the CEO of Global Impact Strategies Inc. and the Co-Chair of Global Covenant Partners.

He is known for co-leading high-impact campaigns including the historic International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He helped found Survivor Corps, formerly Landmine Survivors Network, created by and for survivors to help victims of war rebuild their lives.

Erin Schrode

Erin is a citizen activist, social entrepreneur and storyteller.

Since co-founding Turning Green in 2005, she has developed eco education and action platforms to inspire, educate, and mobilize millions of students and the global public.

She became the youngest person to run for US Congress working to redefine civic engagement, reinvigorate public service, and expand the definition of politician for a generation and a nation.

Tom Chi

Tom has worked in a wide range of roles from astrophysical researcher to Fortune 500 consultant to corporate executive developing new hardware/software products and services.

He most recently served as the head of product experience at Google X developing technology such as Google Glass and Google’s self-driving cars.

Prior to that, he played a significant role in Yahoo! and Microsoft projects like Yahoo Answers and Outlook.

Boulder, Colorado

At the Watson Incubator, students live in Chautauqua Park, a beautiful National Historic Landmark nestled against the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder’s entrepreneurship ecosystem is booming and students are matched with local mentors and social ventures to integrate into the local innovative entrepreneurial community.

Alongside access to world-renowned ski resorts, hiking and mountain biking trails, and climbing, Boulder is also an epicenter of entrepreneurship, business, and innovation with neighbors like Google, Twitter, Amazon, and TechStars.

In addition, Boulder is located just 30 minutes away from Denver, an ever growing tech hub and diverse city located east of the Rocky Mountains. Denver International Airport is one of the busiest in the country and allows for direct flights to all corners of the United States.

The Cohort

As part of a Watson Incubator cohort of young innovators and social entrepreneurs from around the globe, students build a powerful community of peers and lifelong friendships. The cohort, as diverse as it is, has in common a gritty idealism and drive to make the world a better place. Some highlights of student life include:

  • An experiential scholar trip where the cohort travels to learn more about themselves and their classmates
  • Funders Week, an entire week with workshops and special speakers dedicated to fundraising
  • The Watson Summit, a culminating demo day where students pitch their ventures and projects to the Colorado community
  • Shared, fully furnished and equipped apartment-style rooms with kitchens
  • Access to co-working spaces around town and a bus pass
  • Gym membership
  • Living within walking distance of lively downtown Boulder and within feet of dozens of hiking trails

Join the Watson Incubator

We offer three Watson Incubator cohorts each Spring, Summer, and Fall.

The Spring and Fall Watson Incubator cohorts participate in a 16-week program aimed at students with a venture in the early-prototyping and prototyping stages. The Spring and Fall cohorts are optimal for the new Free Agent track.

We are launching our first Summer cohort in May 2020. The 6-week Summer Watson Incubator is designed for students in the idea stage of their venture or project. Application for the inaugural Summer 2020 cohort opens in September.

Spring Cohort

January – May

Summer Cohort

May – July

Fall Cohort

August – December

Apply to the Watson Incubator

You have two tracks to choose from:

Venture Founder Track

The Venture Founder track is for students who are founders or co-founders of a venture or project. The Venture Funder may collaborate with a Free Agent track student attending the same cohort.


Free Agent Track (New)

The new Free Agent track is for students looking to join a venture or project and are prepared to contribute in significant ways to the team. Free Agents join a Venture Founder’s team at the beginning of the cohort.


Is this program for you?

Learn more about the type of student that joins the Watson Incubator below:

Prospective Students Page

Have questions about the Watson Incubator?

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