Lester Entrepreneurial Scholars

The Lester Entrepreneurial Scholars Program at The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy is designed to prepare our students, in the professional and graduate programs, to develop entrepreneurial and innovative leadership and thinking skills to tackle healthcare issues in innovative new ways.

The program is open to The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy Pharm.D. and Ph.D. students. Pharm.D. students must be in their first or second year of coursework.

The application for the Fall 2021 start is open. Applications are due April 15 @ 11:59pm CT. Go to the Apply & FAQ page to find out more information and to apply.

Results of the application cycle will be announced by mid-May.

Program Goals

Identify, nurture and promote entrepreneurship and innovation skills in student pharmacists and graduate students

Promote innovative ideas that improve patients’ lives.

Develop and grow a sustainable program that offers continuity for students and ensures that projects go from concept to development.

Program Outcomes


Students utilize entrepreneurial thinking, innovation, and leadership to participate in developing new products and services.


Facilities and tools for design, prototypes, experimentations and collaboration.

Products and Services

The model for sustainability and continuity allows projects to progress with transitions of Lester Scholars.

Program Tracks

The program consists of distinct tracks to help define the course of action to move a Scholar through the program.


Lester-Tracks-2017 Flow chart

Product Entrepreneurship

  • Pharmaceutical products (including drugs and devices)
  • Technological products (including software and apps)
  • Other physical products (such as engineering related)

Service Entrepreneurship

  • Pharmacy and healthcare services (to implement within an operating pharmacy or another healthcare setting)
  • Independent pharmacy ownership and related services. Learn more about the pharmacy ownership track here.
  • Entrepreneurism and innovation within other healthcare organizations

Social Entrepreneurship

  • To develop and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues (including non-profit pharmacy services or other related non-profit healthcare ideas) that impact the health of society

Pharmacy Ownership

The Pharmacy Ownership track coincides with the Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition. Eligibility Requirements for the competition are:

  • Teams must be composed of Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students, all of whom must be active NCPA student members.
  • Each team must have one (1) team advisor who is a pharmacist member of NCPA or who is a full-time faculty member at the pharmacy school. Dr. Nathan Pope fulfills this role.
  • Pharmacy schools entering the competition must have an active NCPA Student Chapter. UT-NCPA is very active. NOTE: Only one application will be accepted per student chapter.
  • If selected as finalists, team members (up to four) and the team advisor must be able to attend the NCPA Convention in October.

Students are also required to register for PHM 292G Pharmacy Business Planning in the Spring semester. This class meets from 9-11am on Thursday mornings and is intended to be a period of brainstorming, teamwork, and collaboration. Any student from any campus is eligible to be a part of the team.

In order to participate in the business plan competition, one must apply to the Pharmacy Ownership Track of the Lester Entrepreneurial Scholars Program. The application process for this track coincides with the PHM 292G course offering.

Program Phases

Everyone in a program track will move through four distinct phases: Selection, Learning, Experiential, and Leadership. The timeline for the program will include 2 project milestones. These project milestones will help determine the progress and the future of each Scholar.

Picture of LES-Phases


The selection phase will repeat the process of the prior year. After the candidates submit an application and entrepreneurial proposal, feedback will be provided with an opportunity to resubmit for final consideration. The Scholars will then be selected for the program. At this point, the Scholars will select or be placed in teams to complete a project, if applicable. The project options are a unique idea proposed by a Scholar, a legacy project from a previous class of Scholars, or a Faculty proposed project that matches Scholar interests.


The chosen Scholars will undergo an orientation session to set clear expectations of the program. Then the Scholars will be required to register for a practicum course. This course will guide them through the entrepreneurial process of creating a project plan, goals, determining resources, and creating milestones. Guiding the students through the various phases of the drug development process will give them important insights and information that they need for selecting a project and setting realistic goals and milestones.

During this phase, the Scholars will chose one or more external entrepreneurs who will serve as a mentor(s) for the Scholar’s ideas. At the end of the learning phase, the Scholars’ project plans will be reviewed. Mentors will be engaged in the review process. Upon successful review, the Scholars will be approved for the experiential phase of the program and receipt of a scholarship for support to allow the Scholar to focus on the next phase.


During this phase, the Scholars will initiate their project plans and will undergo bimonthly project reviews, bimonthly team to team reviews, apprenticeships or internships, and quarterly progress summary to steering committee. As the Scholars finish up the implementation of their projects, they will present the outcomes of the project in addition to a final written report.


As new Scholars are selected, outgoing Scholars increase their leadership skills by mentoring incoming Scholars.