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VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowship Applications

VHA Fellowship application timeline


Individuals who are VA Employees at the start of program and U.S. Citizens or individuals who possess a current visa allowing paid educational activity. U.S. Citizens shall be given priority in fellow selection.

To review detailed credential criteria, please refer to page 12 of the 2024 VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowship Application Guide.

A paid VA appointment is required prior to starting the program but is not required at the time of the application. Part-time appointments are acceptable to meet eligibility criteria.

Participants currently enrolled in VA training programs or internships may apply but must have an official VA staff appointment at the start of the program.

Existing data from outside of VA can be submitted with your application, but projects must have also been implemented in at least one VA facility, VISN, or Program Office.

VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships Application opens for submission on June 12, 2023 and will remain open until June 28, 2023 at 11:59pm.

Please use the 2024 VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships Application Guide to craft your responses. Keep in mind that the application portal does not allow saving, and therefore applications must be completed and submitted in one session. Please note that images, tables, and bulleted lists cannot be submitted on the official form. Ensure that your responses adhere to the character count presented in the application guide.

Finally, submit your completed application package using the official Salesforce form when it opens on June 12, 2023 until June 28, 2023.

VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships provide two paths for project and fellow development:
  1. Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR)
    1. For emerging leaders to advance their innovative initiatives, leveraging internal and external collaborations, performing value-based evaluation, and navigating pathways to broader implementation.
  2. Senior Innovation Fellow (SIF)
    1. For accomplished leaders who are prepared to implement a national scale project or initiation that measurably improves clinical outcomes, cost, and/or Veteran experience. These projects should promote a diverse approach to accomplishing the VHA Undersecretary for Health Core Priorities. To view the VHA Undersecretary for Health's Core Priorities, please refer to page 5 of the 2024 VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowship Application Guide.
VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships are for individual applicants only. They do not currently support teams. Team members working on the same project are welcome to apply to the Fellowship as individuals. Acceptance of one team member into the Fellowship does not guarantee acceptance of other team members.

Yes, it is permissible to apply on behalf of another individual, provided they are fully aware of the program conditions and ready to actively participate if selected. This also includes obtaining leadership approval to be a member of the program and attending in person event requirements. Applications should be submitted under the name of the intended participant.

  1. Project must be an existing innovation project or project of relative significance.
  2. Project must be directly relevant to VHA Mission or Operations.
  3. Project must relate to National, VISN, or local strategic priorities and needs.
  4. Solutions related to the project must have been implemented in at least one facility.
  5. VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships do not support clinical trials, or other IRB Research projects.
VHA Innovation Ecosystem offers annual opportunities to cultivate your ideas including VHA Shark Tank Competition, Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program, and VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships. For more information on programs within VHA Innovation Ecosystem, please click here.

There are no restrictions when applying to VHA IE opportunities. However, it's important to keep in mind that if you are accepted into multiple programs, you will need to fulfill the requirements of each program separately. While there may be some overlap, each program has its own unique set of requirements and attendance policies.

VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships begin in October of the year accepted and continue through the end of September of the following calendar year. VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellows attend VHA Innovation Experience (iEX) at the beginning and end of their cohort year.

Applicants do not necessarily have to be the founder or originator of an existing project, but they should hold a significant or leadership role. Reviewers will consider the applicant's project role when evaluating and scoring their application.

VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships are unable to provide application assistance due to the scale of applications received. Applicants are advised to review the application guide, related materials, former fellow projects, and to attend or review the application info session. While not all Fellows are available to respond to questions, applicants are also welcome to contact current and former fellows to seek out their advice.

Applicants must allocate up to 20% of their time for VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships. An MOU will be created between VHA IE and the Fellow's duty station to establish requirements and funding. Applicants need not have a signed MOU to apply, but should socialize the document with their leadership, including director-level leadership. Fellows must submit a signed MOU by the first of October, the start of the Fellowship Year.

Please refer to the VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships Application Timeline above and sign up for the VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowship Application Outlook Calendar to view important dates and receive notifications from VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships.

If you miss the submission deadline, you can submit your promising practice during the next VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships application cycle. Late applications will NOT be accepted. Please monitor VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships for information.

When completing your application, please consider the following:
  1. Your application will be evaluated on its feasibility, meaningfulness, and strategic value to VHA.
  2. You will not be able to save your progress in the application and return to it. You can review the application guide to prepare your responses. Please be sure to adhere to proper character lengths, and to refrain from using images, tables or bulleted lists.
  3. To protect the privacy of VHA patients and those who care for them, do not include any Protected Health Information (PHI). To learn more about PHI and the importance of protecting, visit this link.
  4. VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships support innovation projects at different stages of implementation, and therefore do not require the same level of existing data as other VHA IE programs. However, applicants must still demonstrate the value of their projects and explain the data they will use to report on their progress during the fellowship year.
  5. As a primary guide, ensure that your project is at a testable solution or prototype stage.
  6. When possible, use measurable data in your application when describing your practice’s impact, user experience, and financial value.
  7. If possible, provide details on the user experience for your target population (e.g., Veterans, employees, caregivers)
  8. Avoid acronyms and jargon.
Following the close of the application period on June 28, 2023, evaluators will review and score all applications. VHA Office of Health Innovation and Learning (OHIL) will notify applicants of their acceptance or non-acceptance by July 28, 2023. The 2024 VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships cohort will be publicly announced on September 1, 2023.

If you have any inquiries or concerns regarding VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at VHAInnovationFellows@va.gov. We would be more than happy to assist you.

Please ensure that you sign and attach an Alt 450 COI form if you have a partnership with an external entity that is part of, affected by, or a potential collaborator during your Fellowship. Failure to submit a 450 COI form for applications that identify external collaborators will result in rejection. The purpose of the COI is to allow you to disclose any financial or contractual conflicts of interest you may have with external agencies or associates.

VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellows will spend no more than 20% of their time with VHA Innovation Ecosystem. A portion of this time will be spent in monthly fellow enrichment experiences, at VHA Innovation Experience, Diffusion Academy, and other fellowship related gatherings, including weekly office hours and project management support meetings.

  1. VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellows should plan to attend VHA Innovation Experience in October, and VHA Diffusion of Excellence Diffusion Academy in January. Additionally, there may be 2-3 Fellowships specific gatherings each year.
  2. Other fellowship-related travel is determined by the fellow, VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships Leadership, Duty Station Leadership, and project needs. It is recommended that fellows identify relevant conferences and leadership opportunities that align with their project goals and support its development and promotion. Additionally, such opportunities can aid in the fellow's professional growth and development.
  3. VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships will provide funding for approved travel related to the Fellowships project, if funding is available.
  4. There are monthly required virtual experiences, and fellows will also have access to regular, optional virtual office hours.
  5. VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellows remain at their assigned duty station unless traveling for Fellowships related opportunities and experiences.
At the beginning of the Fellowship, you will begin to identify and track KPIs/OKIs and qualitative data related to your project to measure its impact on the VHA Innovations Ecosystem and its intended target population. This data will be recorded at a predetermined cadence and be included in an annual VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships Impact report.

Part of your VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowship year is about building a community of support around your project and professional development. This looks different for each individual fellow, and a benefit of being a member of the Fellowship cohort is being able to communicate and collaborate on your projects. No specific collaboration is required, but it is encouraged.

While VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships do not offer certification or credentialing, the program does provide funding for Continuing Education Unit (CEU) courses, certifications, and credentialing programs that are relevant to the fellow's project.

This program is a knowledge enrichment and leadership development opportunity and includes resourcing and funding as agreed upon after candidate selection. This may include salary reimbursement and/or project resource support and will be negotiated between each VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellow, their leadership, and VHA OHIL.

Your innovation does not need to be restricted to VA, but it must have been implemented in at least one VA facility, VISN, or Program Office.

If you have implemented across multiple CBOC sites, it is worth noting in your application without consuming too much space. It's best to focus on the impact of implementation.


With VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships approval, VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellows are welcome to identify their own mentors and invite them to participate in the program. However, if you need assistance, VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships can provide you with a list of potential mentors. Additionally, we may suggest a mentor based on the focus of your project.

We strongly recommend that you provide a list of potential mentors for VHA Innovation Ecosystem Fellowships. In the application, you can identify individuals, or departments and program offices that align with your project and would serve as suitable mentors.

Photo of Suzanne Shirley

Suzanne Shirley, LCSW

Director of Community Engagement & Fellowships

"The Fellowships Program has given VHA employees opportunities to implement wide-spread change across VHA by developing a thriving community of cross-sector leaders and fostering growth. Their actions inspire others to strive to innovate, collaborate, and accomplish more together for our Veterans."