Frequently Asked Questions

Why does MaineHealth need an Innovation Cohort?

MMC has an Innovation Cohort because there is an urgent need to solve the problems that we see everyday in our work. We need all hands on deck - from our valuable trainees, to our seasoned clinicians, incredible scientists, and thoughtful staff at all levels of service across the enterprise. The Innovation Cohort is a place to learn how to turn discomforts and problems into novel, useful solutions. The Innovation Cohort will be the flattest, most honest place in the MaineHealth ecosystem. There will be no bosses, no hierarchy, and no discounted observations. If you have a good idea, we will advance it!

How might I select a problem to work on?

Everyone approaches problem differently. We recommend choosing a problem that you have experience with, that you think other people experience as well, and that you think is solvable. We have also found it is easier to stick with a problem that bothers you personally. The most useful inventions often come out of invested, personal experience.

What is intellectual property?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the intellectual property system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish. MMC has in-house expertise to help protect intellectual property.

How do I learn to invent?

You learn to invent by being curious, empathic and becoming expert in one small corner of a problem. We recommend scientific training, real life experience and reading (novels, mostly).

Anyone can be an inventor. We will show you how.

How much time will it take to be in the Cohort?

Applicants selected for the cohort should expect to spend ~10 hours per week on their projects. Most people who do this work spend even more time because they are motivated and interested and want to change the world. The teams will get together for five meetings over ten weeks for teaching, to discuss mutual challenges, to plan next steps, and create a group of innovators who know how to find each other across the institution.

If I invent something, do I preserve the rights to it?

We will discuss this in more depth once the cohort is selected. The short answer is yes. If a project is promising, MMC will help secure relevant intellectual property, and new companies will be formed to license the patent from MMC and build additional value on top of the intellectual property. The pathway for intellectual property protection, company formation, or licensing are unique to each invention and circumstance.

Can I receive a patent out of this work?

Maybe. Not all good ideas require patents. Some require copyright. Some are processes or services. If there are patentable claims, the inventor(s) will be named on the patent.

What is a startup?

A startup is NOT a phase of company. A startup is a company with an attitude for high-growth or high-impact over a compressed period of time.