Faculty Grants Guidelines

applicants are strongly encouraged to read the entire guidelines prior to submitting

Introduction

VentureWell awards faculty grants to colleges and universities for the purpose of strengthening existing curricular programs and/or building new programs in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Through these grant funds, VentureWell supports creative pedagogical approaches that generate student teams (E-Teams*) working on technology solutions to real-world problems. Proposals may include plans for creating or improving an individual course, course sequence, minor, major, certificate program, incubator, accelerator, and other co- and extra-curricular programs.

*What’s an E-Team?

VentureWell defines an E-Team as a multidisciplinary group of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to bring a technology-based invention (product or service) to market. The “E” stands for entrepreneurship.

VentureWell encourages proposals that involve students, faculty and advisors from engineering, science, business, design, and liberal arts disciplines, as well as groups traditionally underrepresented in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including women and minorities. We offer two types of faculty grants: Course and Program grants and Sustainable Vision grants. The two programs are described below, however the guidelines and application processes for both programs are the same.

1) Course & Program grants support educational courses or programs at the intersection of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship that lead to the creation and support of E-Teams. Focus areas include but are not limited to:

  • General (technology-based) entrepreneurship
  • New materials/clean tech/green energy innovation
  • Biomedical and healthcare innovation
  • Information technology innovation

2) Sustainable Vision grants are very similar to Course & Program grants in that they support educational programs that lead to the creation of and support of E-Teams. The key difference is that Sustainable Vision proposals must lead to the development of technology innovations that address poverty alleviation and basic human needs, and a local, off-campus partner must be identified in the proposal. Focus areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Water
  • Sanitation
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture
  • Shelter
  • Information technology

Who May Apply

VentureWell faculty grants are awarded to US-based colleges and universities. Faculty and staff from VentureWell member colleges and universities are eligible to apply. Proposals may include non-member partners from education, non-profits, industry, NGOs, governments and/or the investment community, etc. If you have questions about the status of your institution’s VentureWell membership, please contact us.

Faculty Grants Selection Criteria

The more SPECIFIC, CLEAR and COMPELLING your proposal is, the more competitive your proposal will be. Typically, proposals have a 15-20% chance of getting funded.  Successful faculty grant proposals include these elements:

  • A focus on technology entrepreneurship.
  • Experiential learning by doing, and creative pedagogical approaches to solving real world problems.
  • The formation of student teams focused on technology invention, innovation and entrepreneurship with a positive social/environmental impact.
  • An entrepreneurial ecosystem to support the most promising student teams interested in pursuing commercialization beyond the proposed course/program.
  • A plan for continuation (and financial sustainability) of the course or program post VentureWell funding.
  • If the program focus is outside the campus community or outside the US, a local partner must be identified.
  • Although not required, VentureWell welcomes ideas that include interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary learning.

What will NOT be funded?
 Examples of projects that are NOT strong candidates for faculty grant funding include:

  • Courses and/or programs without a focus on technology innovation and/or entrepreneurship.
  • Pure research projects.
  • Courses and/or programs that are unlikely to continue beyond the grant period.
  • Existing programs where there is little change or improvement proposed (i.e., ongoing support requests).
  • Courses and/or programs that do not lead to the creation of E-Teams.
  • Proposals that do not demonstrate support for the most promising technologies and teams beyond the classroom/lab/club.

Institutional Support

NOTE: Applicants should contact their Office of Sponsored Research or the equivalent well ahead (2+ weeks) of the grant deadline to inform them their intention to submit a proposal. Most universities require a full proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted to VentureWell.

The following institutional representatives must verify their support of your proposal by responding to an automated email request from the grants system and entering their initials online. This process is triggered within the online proposal process). Faculty grant proposals CANNOT be submitted until these required advisors have verified their support. If you have any questions or concerns about this sign-off process, please contact us.

Principal Investigator (PI) 
The Principal Investigator takes primary responsibility for the proposal and will have overall responsibility for the grant and reporting. Ideally, a tenured or tenure-track faculty and/or staff member serves as the Principal Investigator. Co-PIs are allowed, but 1 lead PI must be identified. Students may not serve as Principal Investigators.

Administrative Contact (AC) 
VentureWell defines the Administrative Contact as a grants administrator or fiscal officer authorized to commit the institution to the terms of the grant. Often, the AC is someone in your institution’s Office of Sponsored Programs/Research or an administrator able to manage grant funding within a department or school. Principal Investigators, other faculty, and students may not serve as the AC.

Department Chair (DC) 
The Department Chair (or equivalent) will need to indicate his/her awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposal.

Dean of Faculty (DF) 
The Dean of Faculty (or equivalent) will need to indicate his/her awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposal.

Intellectual Property Policies

VentureWell supports courses and/or programs that lead to the creation of student E-Teams as they work toward commercialization of their inventions. Ownership of discoveries or inventions resulting from activities financed by VentureWell grant funds will be governed by grantee institutions’ intellectual property (IP) policies. If a school does not have an IP policy, then the institution must develop an agreement that establishes ownership of ideas resulting from students’ work. VentureWell takes no financial or ownership interest in the projects that result from grant funding.

How to Apply

All program applications must be submitted online. Anyone on the team may serve as the applicant. ALL proposal deadlines end at 11:59 pm eastern time on the specified due date unless otherwise indicated. To start, you’ll need to have a VentureWell account. Creating an account is easy, and anyone can do it. To access an existing account or to create a new one, click here. You may start, save, stop, and return to your online proposal at anytime before submitting.

The Proposal: Required and Optional Components

As part of the online application process, you will be prompted to upload the following into your proposal:

  • Required proposal components combined together in a single PDF (includes the proposal narrative, proposed budget, letter(s) of support, and key team member resumes). We strongly encourage the following naming convention for this PDF: “PI Last Name_Name of your insitution_FacultyGrant” (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue)
  • Additional appendices (optional) up to 5 appendices total, combined together in a single PDF. We strongly encourage the following naming convention for this PDF: “PI Last Name_Name of your institution_FacultyGrantAppendices” (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue)
  • Weblinks (optional): up to 3 links can be included (websites, video links, articles, etc.).

Required Proposal Components

The following documents are required as part of your proposal and must be included in the following order, combined together into a single PDF. We strongly encourage the following naming convention for this PDF: “PI Last Name_Name of your insitution_FacultyGrant” (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue)

  1. Proposal narrative
  2. Proposed budget (in the VentureWell template, which can be downloaded here or directly from the online proposal application)
  3. Letter(s) of support (at least 1 required, maximum of 3 accepted)
  4. Team member resumes (4 resumes maximum, each limited to 3 pages per resume)

1) REQUIRED: Proposal Narrative Your proposal narrative may not exceed 5 pages in length using 12-point Times font and 1-inch margins. Please clearly state in the title of your narrative if you are applying for a Course & Program faculty grant or a Sustainable Vision faculty grant. The more SPECIFIC, CLEAR, and COMPELLING your narrative is, the more competitive your proposal will be. Tell the reviewers a story: what currently exists, where are the gaps, what are you proposing to create,and what are the hoped for outcomes? In other words, why this idea now?

  • Narrative description
  • What are you proposing? Is it a course or a program?  Is it new or an expansion of existing courses/programs?
  • Differentiate between what already exists vs. what you are asking for funding to support. If applicable, you may include a chart or map as an appendix item to identify what currently exists vs. the new elements you are proposing. Emphasis should be placed on what you are proposing, not on what already exists.
  • What is the technology invention/innovation area of focus?
  • Explain the process: how will the proposed course or program lead to the creation of student E-Teams be formed and where will the ideas come from (students/faculty, university research, a combination, etc.)?
  • Is there an experiential learning opportunity for students?
  • Is there potential for educational, social and/or environmental impact?
  • How will your entrepreneurship ecosystem support the most promising teams and technologies?

History and context

  • What gap(s) are you addressing on your campus; what do you feel is missing?
  • Provide a 1-2 paragraph background of how the program or project began and what has been accomplished so far (if anything).
  • What support have you already received for this work if any?

Team and partners

  • Describe the role of each key individual involved with delivering/supporting the proposed course and/or program. Keep each description to 1-2 sentences.
  • Identify partners on campus or beyond who will help promising teams commercialize any resulting technologies. If the proposal focus is outside the campus community or outside the US, please note that an off-campus, local partner is required.
  • Describe the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” on your campus and in the community and how your students will access these resources (other faculty, mentors, departments, entrepreneurship centers, incubators, accelerators, industry, NGOs, governments etc.).

*Note: Proposals should go beyond listing entrepreneurial support resources and demonstrate that a structured path is available for some teams to further develop a path to market. Work plan and outcomes: create a table in the narrative

  • What do you hope to achieve during the grant period?
  • How many E-Teams will be formed/supported each year? How many students?

Beyond the grant

  • How will you evaluate your course/program beyond student evaluations?
  • Will the course or program continue beyond the end of the grant period? If so, how do you anticipate that it will be funded? Is your program replicable?
  • If your program is international in focus, how will travel and other expenses be supported beyond the proposed grant period?

2. REQUIRED: Proposed Budget Your budget demonstrates to reviewers how you intend to achieve the objectives proposed in your 5-page narrative. VentureWell requires you to use the provided faculty grants budget template which you can download here. Justifying your proposed budget Including specific budget justifications is a critical piece in helping reviewers understand how you intend to spend grant funds. Provide your justifications in the “justifications” section in the budget template or in a separate sheet; the more detail in the justifications the better. Grant funds may be proposed for expenses related to curricular development and course or program realization. Equipment and other resources purchased with grant funds become the property of the institution.

Eligible expenses examples:

  • Equipment expenses (VentureWell will typically not fund the purchase of equipment that is considered part of college or university infrastructure. Equipment expenses should be less than 1/3 the total proposed budget).
  • Personnel costs up to $5,000 for US-based proposals and up to $10,000 for global proposals (may be divided or proposed for 1 person, and includes the cost of any applicable fringe benefits).
  • Expenses related to the technical development of student E-Team innovations, including (but not limited to) materials & supplies, prototyping, technical services, and testing.
  • Expenses related to students performing patent searches, creating marketing analyses, and business plans.
  • Travel expenses (requests may include expenses related to attending Open, VentureWell’s annual conference, for year one only).

Ineligible expenses examples:

  • Overhead: VentureWell does not cover institutional overhead.
  • Expenses that are unlikely to be sustained beyond the proposed grant period, such as competition prize money, and lengthy student internships.
  • Personnel costs over the maximums mentioned above.
  • Equipment expenses totaling more than 1/3 the total proposed budget.
  • Speaker honoraria over $200.
  • Wages for students during the academic year.
  • Legal and other expenses of business formation or operation.
  • Publicity expenses.

3. REQUIRED: Letter(s) of Support Letters of support should demonstrate to reviewers that there is ongoing institutional support for your project and/or technical competence and market opportunity in the proposed work. Letters can also serve to verify partnerships discussed in your proposal narrative or verify additional funding to complement the proposed budget. At least 1 letter is required, up to 3 will be accepted. Note that If the proposal focus is outside the campus community or outside the US, at least one off-campus local partner is required, and a letter of support from this partner should be provided.

4. REQUIRED: Resumes 
Include resumes from the Principal Investigator and any other key collaborators. We do not need resumes for the Administrative Contact or non-key team members/collaborators. Up to 4 resumes are allowed and they should be no more than 3 pages each.

Optional: Additional Appendices Key information should be in the required narrative; however, up to 5 additional (optional) supporting documents such as curricula, syllabi, photos, videos, etc. may be combined into 1 PDF file and uploaded as an appendix item. Note: Sheer volume of material is not an asset.

Optional: Weblinks and/or videos In addition to supporting documents, applicants may upload up to 3 links to websites, online articles, videos and/or other relevant online data that will inform and provide context for the proposed program. We strongly encourage the following naming convention for this PDF: “PI Last Name_Name of your institution_FacultyGrantAppendices” (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue).

The VentureWell Review and Notification Process

  • Submitted proposals are screened internally and reviewed by external panels of reviewers made up of individuals from academia, industry, nonprofits, and content experts from the US and around the world.
  • VentureWell strives to notify applicants of the status of their proposals via email within 90 days of the submission deadline. In some cases, we may ask for additional information and/or clarification after the proposal has been submitted.
  • All applicants and Principal Investigators will receive notification via email as to whether or not their proposal has been selected for funding. If your proposal is not accepted, detailed reviewer comments are not shared in writing, but applicants may schedule a call with us to receive a verbal summary of reviewer feedback.
  • Occasionally, reviewers invite a team to resubmit their proposal in a future cycle for re-consideration, after certain concerns or questions are addressed. Applicants invited by reviewers to resubmit should contact us to discuss the reviewer feedback in detail and make sure they understand the questions and concerns raised. Resubmitted proposals must include a cover letter titled “Addressing Previous Reviewer Concerns” that specifies where within the proposal previous concerns have been addressed. This cover letter will not count towards the 5-page narrative maximum.

If your Proposal is Approved

  • Faculty grants are awarded to US-based colleges and universities.
  • The Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact will receive a notification letter via email.
  • VentureWell will send an approved budget and award letter agreement for signature to the Administrative Contact identified in the proposal. Once this award letter is signed and returned to VentureWell, funds can be disbursed.

Reporting for Grantees Reporting requirements will be outlined in the award letter. Principal Investigators for VentureWell grants are prompted via email (usually once each year) to complete reports online. Failure to submit reports may jeopardize your institution’s eligibility for future grants and pending payments. If you receive a grant, reporting deadlines will be detailed in your award letter.

Congratulations, you read the guidelines!

If you are still unsure about whether your idea is a fit, email a 1-paragraph abstract for feedback to facultygrants@venturewell.org or call the grants team at (413) 587-2172.