Master project in your startup

Since 2018, you have the opportunity to perform your Master Thesis in your own startup, even if it is not yet incorporated.

  • The project needs to have both a strong academic perspective and clear entrepreneurial objectives;
  • You will receive the academic support of an EPFL lab, and business advice from a professional coach of the EPFL Innovation Park. You will also have an Alumni mentor buddy during the Semester.
  • You will be hosted by either an EPFL lab or the EPFL Innovation Park, under the supervision of one or the other.

We recommend that you start your application process at least six months before the start of your master project.

Candidate selection ends three months before the start of the PDM.

  • Full application deadline for your Master Thesis taking place in Autumn >> Apply in June of the same year.
  • Full application deadline for your Master Thesis taking place in Spring >> Apply in November of the year before.

Be an enrolled EPFL student who needs to perform a PDM.
The startup project needs both a strong academic plan, and sound entrepreneurial objectives.

Prior to the application, the student must confirm that his /her Academic Section agrees with the student doing a PDM in his /her startup.

If desired, the student may ask to perform the PDM in another academic section, provided that (a) the decision is sound and in line with the academic and entrepreneurial objectives, and (b) his/her Academic Section approves.
The student may be required by his/her Academic Section to find a professor within his section to co-supervised the PDM.


  • For students who need to validate an industry internship, the duration of the PDM is to be of 6 months.
  • For student who already validated their industry internship, the PDM in your startup can be completed in 4 months. Students who wish to complete their PDM in 6 months, need to obtain the approval of their academic section and the selection Committee.
Please reach out to [email protected] as soon as you would be interested in the program. We can then help you build your project in line with the eligibility conditions.
  1. Send a short email at [email protected] to mention your interest to apply to the Program;
  2. Before the application deadline, please send your application folder containing: 

A. General

  • A cover letter detailing your motivation to join the program.
  • A summary description of your master project, including respectively your academic and business objectives, signed by the professor who will supervise you.

  B. Academic

A defined scientific question which answer would be useful to your startup. It should be at least as challenging as a regular Master project in a lab or in the industry.

  • Find an accredited EPFL professor whose expertise is in line with your scientific question. You must confirm the professor’s willingness to supervise your project.
  • Write a detailed description of your project’s academic objectives together with the professor. Have the professor’s signature to the description.
  C. Business
  • A list of business objectives to be completed during the Semester, to help us find a suitable coach and mentor.
  • A pitch deck of 10 to 15 slides max, describing in the following order: 
    • (a) an introductory slide mentioning your academic section, your scientific question and your supervising professor,
    • (b) the description of a problem,
    • (c) technical and business description of the solution,
    • (d) any initial market validation (e.g results of customer survey),
    • (e) market sizing,
    • (f) business model,
    • (g) any initial traction if you have,
    • (h) the list of your academic and business objectives and
    • (i) a timeline/ break-down plan for the PDM;
You will be contacted to pitch his/her project in front of a selection committee, composed of EPFL members with following structure:
  • 15-minute presentation
  • 15-minute questions
The Committee will select all candidates who demonstrate both a strong academic plan and smart entrepreneurial objectives. 
If validated, you will then be required to inform your Academic Section of the Committee’s decision, and mentioning the professor(s) supervising his/her project. 
You will then be asked to register your project in ISA as a PDM in your startup. In the ‘School/Company section’, you can mention either EPFL Innovation Park or the EPFL Lab hosting you.