Skip to main content

Leonardo Enterprises

You are just in time for the startup revolution!

Dayton, Ohio, has a rich history of high-tech innovation and creativity – from the Wright Brothers to Charles Kettering to the Air Force Research Laboratories – and now, in 2021, our burgeoning startup community is primed for explosive growth.

In fact, this is true of most major cities in Ohio, the U.S. and around the world; we are all witnessing the global startup revolution unfold in real-time.

Do you want in? 

The University of Dayton School of Engineering has answered the call with a resounding “Yes!”

Welcome to Leonardo Enterprises

Leonardo Enterprises is the University of Dayton’s very own reimagined high-tech startup incubator, where we fund people not projects[1],[2] — a program beyond startup incubation designed for ambitious undergraduate individuals aiming at becoming technology entrepreneurs[3] and intrapreneurs.

  • Have you always been interested in engineering and business but weren’t sure how to combine the two?
  • Are you passionate about solving real world problems and creating genuine value aimed at the common good?
  • Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be part of Dayton’s burgeoning Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and interact with our very own Startup Community?[4]
  • Do you want to grow your ability to understand yourself[5] and others so that you can be a better leader?
  • Do you dream of becoming a technology entrepreneur or intrapreneur but just aren’t sure how to get there?
  • Do you believe that you have what it takes to help build the future and maybe just change the world?

If your answer to these questions was “Yes!” your Hero’s Journey[6] might just start here and now.

[1] Ioannidis, J. Fund people not projects. Nature 477, 529–531 (2011).

[2] Ricón, José Luis, “Fund people, not projects I: The HHMI and the NIH Director's Pioneer Award”, Nintil (2020-12-27), available at




How can I start my fall 2021 cohort application?
Leonardo Enterprises Fellowship
Details and application

What will it look like to be a Leonardo Fellow?

  •  Timelines and engagement expectations
    1. Final selections for fall cohort made in June 2021 after spring semester.
    2.  Once cohort members notified and confirmed, summer pre-work assigned (to be completed prior to returning to campus).
    3. Upon returning for the fall semester, fellows engage in a blended learning format via Isidore and in person.
  •  After successful program completion, the School of Engineering will host a “Shark-Tank-like” Pitch Day event.
    1. You will tell your story to your family, friends, cohort members, professors, local entrepreneurs and other community leaders.
    2. You will put a stake in the ground and commit to your specific entrepreneurial aims, located at the intersection of what the world needs and what you feel that you are uniquely suited to do.
    3. You will have the opportunity to make an “ask,” be it capital, connections or other collaborative resources (see key benefits below) to help you in your Hero’s Journey.
  • What opportunities exist on the other side?
    1. Unique senior design funding opportunities for a project of your choice via the School of Engineering’s Innovation Center.[1]
    2. Specialized UD entrepreneurship education, including MGT 426: Fundamentals of New Tech Ventures[2] and much more.
    3. Intellectual property education, collaboration and commercialization opportunities.[3],[4]
    4. Ease of access to countless resources outside of UD in the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem and startup community.[5] Check out our Program Partner links for more info!






Key benefits of being a Leonardo Fellow

This program is designed to leverage our local entrepreneurial community’s unique set of cultural, intellectual and natural resources, including but not limited to the following:

  • Capital: Money and intellectual property (via UD or the University of Dayton Research Institute[1]
  • Connections: Mentorship and networking
  • Collaborative resources: Coworking space and equipment (via UD or UDRI)
  • Entrepreneurship basics: Tools and frameworks
    • Self-discovery, including self-authoring[2]
    • Lean startup methodology[3]
    • Business, including cash and valuation, customers and sales, and operations and costs
    • Marketing and design
    • Legal




Frequently Asked Questions

  • No, the program is open to all University of Dayton undergraduate students. We seek diverse undergraduate individuals aimed at creating genuine value for the common good by solving real world problems through use of technological tools.  If that is you, feel free to apply!

  • Of course! However, as successful entrepreneurs know (and unsuccessful inventors do not), identifying the problem to be solved is much more important that identifying the technology or idea that might be used to solve it. You will likely have to pivot and iterate many times to find an appropriate solution and business model for your real-world problem.  The more that you can succinctly state the problem that you are interested in solving for the world, without being too attached to a specific technology solution, the better off you will be heading into the Fellowship.
  • "Customers don’t care about your solution. They care about their problems." —Dave McClure, 500 Startups

  • No, course credit is not available for the Fall 2021 cohort. You must plan on all Fellowship work to fall outside of the purview of your normal course load.

  • Depending on the public health situation there may be in-person activities for that are required for you to attend with your cohort and around the community this Fall. We are, however, prepared to operate a fully remote program.


Leonardo Enterprises, Greg Loughnane, Director

Kettering Laboratories
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0211