Thank you for your interest in the BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant Program! In this guide, you’ll find all the information you need in order to create and submit your BME-IDEA International E-Team grant application. We encourage you to read the guide in its entirety to determine whether your team, technology, and international collaboration are a fit for the program.
The Biomedical Engineering Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Alliance (BME-IDEA) is a consortium of leading faculty at over 150 institutions who are committed to sharing best practices in teaching innovation, design, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship. The Whitaker Foundation has supported interdisciplinary medical research, with a focus on biomedical engineering since 1975. The Foundation developed the Whitaker International Program with a focus on developing future Biomedical Engineering (BME) leaders with an international perspective, and on creating connections between the US and global BME community.
VentureWell, with support from the Whitaker International Program, is hosting a dedicated cohort of the VentureWell E-Team Grant Program, BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant Program. The BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant program is specifically designed to support collaborative projects between BME design students and international institutions in Africa or Latin America.
The two goals of the BME-IDEA International grants program are to:
- Build strong partnerships between US-based and global BME design programs, including exchanges of faculty, students, resources, and best practices.
- Foster the development of US-trained leaders in BME design who demonstrate a clear understanding of the challenges of teaching and practice of this field around the world, especially in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) in Africa and Latin America.
The BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant program will accomplish these goals by awarding up to 13 $13,000 grants, allocated as follows:
- $9,000 E-Team grant for students, including funds for international travel and collaboration
- $4,000 funds for the Principal Investigator, including travel to and participation in the BME-IDEA conference fall 2022
The BME-IDEA International E-Team grant will provide a $5,000 Stage 1 grant allocation and an additional $4,000 allocation for travel and collaboration for students in the development and implementation of BME student projects focused on innovation, design, and entrepreneurship. In their proposals, applicants will demonstrate a clear understanding of the global host country’s cultural context and have a plan to engage with existing knowledge, interest, and capacity of relevant local partners. Funds are intended to support the proposed timeline and activities in the proposal (including travel, but not required).
In addition to grant funding, the BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant Program will require team participation in a virtual Pioneer workshop, the E-Team training for Stage 1 grantees. Teams will be required to have at least 2 team members participate in the workshop, one from the US applicant institution and one from the international partner institution, which will continue to foster and deepen the collaboration among the participating institutions.
Upon completion of the Stage 1 Pioneer workshop, student teams will be eligible to then apply for Stage 2 of the E-Team program ($20,000 grant and participation in Propel workshop).
Faculty who serve as Principal Investigators on E-Team grants are often critical to the teams’ success. Given the emphasis on developing partnerships and collaborations with global institutions, the BME-IDEA International E-Team grant will provide the PIs with a $4,000 allocation, which may be used for travel expenses and associated costs to participate in global BME partner site visits, conferences, trainings, and/or advising opportunities.
The BME-IDEA meeting in Fall 2022 will bring together the E-Team PIs and their international counterparts at their partner institutions. This convening will allow for a two-way sharing of learnings and best practices in BME across geographies. A portion of the PI-allocated funds will cover travel and participation in the Fall 2022 BME-IDEA meeting for E-Team PIs. The international counterparts will be eligible for sponsorship to the meeting through VentureWell.
To be considered for a BME-IDEA International E-Team grant, applicants MUST:
- Be US-based. This program is open to student-led teams from US-based colleges or universities, not for individual inventors. Grant funds are awarded to the institution, not directly to teams or ventures. We cannot award funding to international universities at this time, but highly recommend their involvement in the project.
- Demonstrate in-country partner support. Selected BME projects will demonstrate a clear understanding of the global host country’s cultural context as well as the existing knowledge, interest, and capacity of relevant local partners. At least one letter of support from a local partner institution is required.
- Be from a VentureWell Member institution. The applicant’s university must be a VentureWell member at the time you submit your application. Membership is currently free. It is expected that members of your team will come from different universities, but at least one of these schools must be a VentureWell member and administer the grant. Applications may include non-member partners from education, nonprofits, industry, NGOs, governments and/or the investment community, etc. See the Application Components section below for more details.
- Be a team of two or more. Teams must include at least two active students (undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, or a student in some fellowship programs) and at least one of those students must be from an international institution. Students should serve as the entrepreneurial leader(s) of a team, and should have a role in decision-making and leading venture development, regardless of the origin of the idea or invention.
Other team members should include advisors from within and outside of the institution who have experience, knowledge, and network connections that will contribute to the team’s success. We strongly recommend that both technical and business expertise is represented on the team.
There is no maximum team size, although successful teams usually have fewer than six members. However, only 2-3 members from your team may attend our workshops.
- Demonstrate institutional support. All teams are required to obtain verification of support from a Principal Investigator (PI), Administrative Contact (AC), and Department Chair (DC). See Required Verifications of Support section for details.
- Demonstrate your innovation is a fit. VentureWell supports the development of science/engineering-based innovations that are scalable, commercially promising, and have a positive impact on the world.
- Your product is a fit for the BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant program if:
- It is a biomedical engineering-based invention that is different from other competing technologies. For example:
- Biomedical devices
- Healthcare diagnostics
- Global health technologies
- It can potentially scale to leverage a large commercial opportunity
- It addresses a critical social, environmental, or economic problem
- There is a plausible path to commercialization
- It is a biomedical engineering-based invention that is different from other competing technologies. For example:
- Examples of projects that are not a fit for the BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant program:
- Projects that are intended for sectors other than biomedical engineering/healthcare (e.g. agriculture, energy, materials, environment)
- Web-based or mobile apps that are not significantly innovative or impactful
- Projects without any student involvement
- Faculty-driven projects in which participating students have no influence on resulting intellectual property (IP) or low decision-making power to apply learning from the E-team workshops
- Pure research projects without any defined commercial applications or potential
- Projects without a clear technology invention or innovation
- Projects that don’t address a path to commercialization
- Projects without a clearly articulated social and/or environmental impact
- Projects that do not involve an emphasis on entrepreneurship and/or that begin and end in the classroom. The student team leaders should show intention to move the technology beyond the classroom.
VentureWell’s Organizational Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
VentureWell is on a mission to cultivate a pipeline of inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs driven to solve the world’s biggest challenges and to create lasting impact. In the United States, the majority groups in the science & technology (S&T) innovation & entrepreneurship (I&E) ecosystem are white, cis-gender men from economically privileged backgrounds. While this constituency includes plentiful talent and ideas, the systems that both historically and currently lift these voices to the top also silence others. We are collectively missing out on ideas and contributions from people marginalized due to racism and/or sexism as well as those identifying as coming from low-income backgrounds. We believe that removing barriers for those systematically shut out of the opportunity to cultivate their ideas and innovations will support us in solving the world’s greatest problems.
We encourage applicants from underrepresented groups (URGs), especially those who identify as Black, Latinx, and Indigenous; women of all backgrounds; and individuals from low-income backgrounds.
VentureWell does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, religion (creed), gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, or military status.
Working With Your Institution Before You Apply
Applicants will need to confirm multiple items with their institution prior to applying. We recommend you begin these steps up to eight weeks before the application deadline and no later than two weeks before the deadline. Be sure to identify and connect with the relevant administrative contacts at your institution at the start of the application process, as it often takes time to compile the required materials and necessary administrative approvals.
Before you start your application, you should contact your Office of Sponsored Programs/Research or the equivalent well ahead of the grant deadline to inform them of your intention to submit a proposal. VentureWell requires verification of institutional support of your proposal from a Principal Investigator, an Administrative Contact, and your Department Chair. These institutional representatives must verify their support of your proposal by responding to an automated email request from our proposal system and entering their initials online. (This process is triggered within the online proposal process). The system will not allow you to submit your proposal until support has been verified from each of the following individuals:
- Principal Investigator (PI). The PI 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 PI. Co-PIs are allowed, but one lead PI must be identified. Students may not serve as PIs.
- Administrative Contact (AC). VentureWell defines the AC as a grants administrator or fiscal officer authorized to sign the award letter and commit the institution to the terms of the grant, should you be funded. The AC should be someone in your institution’s Office of Sponsored Programs/Research. PIs, other faculty, or students may not serve as the AC.
- Department Chair (DC). The DC (or equivalent) will need to indicate their awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposal. The DC has no additional or ongoing responsibilities related to the grant.
In addition, most universities require a full proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted to VentureWell. This process can take up to two weeks — inquire at your Office of Sponsored Programs for your university’s specific process.
Intellectual Property Policies
You are advised to take appropriate steps to protect your team’s intellectual property before submitting your application. You should read and understand your institution’s intellectual property policy. If your institution does not have an intellectual property policy, we strongly suggest that your team works with the institution to establish an understanding regarding the resulting ownership of ideas funded through the E-Team work.
VentureWell supports teams as they work toward the commercialization of their inventions and takes no financial or ownership interest in the projects funded by its grants. Ownership of discoveries or inventions resulting from activities financed by a VentureWell grant and/or competition prize funds will be governed by grantee institutions’ intellectual property policies.
How To Apply
All proposals must be submitted via our online platform. All deadlines end at 11:59 pm Eastern Time on the deadline date unless otherwise indicated. Anyone on your team may serve as the applicant on a submission. You will need to create a free VentureWell account, which you can create in a few simple steps. To access an existing account or to create a new one, click here. Then sign in, find the BME-IDEA International E-Team application in the “Open Opportunities” section and begin your proposal.
You may start, save, stop, and return to your online grant proposal at any time before submitting. We recommend that you start your proposal 4–8 weeks before the deadline to leave ample time to edit and proofread, gather letters of support and resumes, and verify institutional support.
Required Application Components
Your application must have the following components combined together into a single PDF:
- Title page
- Five-page proposal narrative: See below for details. An additional 1–2 pages of references are allowed; these do not count toward the five-page application maximum.
- Proposed budget: See below for details.
- Letter(s) of support: Minimum of two letters are required: one from your university/college to demonstrate institutional support, and one from your in-country partner institution.
- Team member resumes: Include resumes of key student team members, Principal Investigator, and key in-country collaborators.
- Optional appendix: You may include supporting documents in an appendix.
Use the following naming convention for this PDF: “TeamName_University_ETeamapplication” (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue).
Your title page should include the following information:
- Name of your team or venture
- US university name and any partner universities or institutions
- List of team members:
- For each student team member, include: name, degree sought, month and year of expected graduation, and email address
- For the Principal Investigator and international faculty collaborators, include: name, institution, department, and title
Proposal Narrative (Required)
Your overall proposal narrative (excluding title page and references) may not exceed five
pages in length using 12-point Times font and one-inch margins.
Technology and value proposition (1 to 2 pages): Describe your technology and its value
proposition. Address the following questions in this section:
- What problem are you solving for what customers?
- What are the clinical, market and/or industry needs that you are addressing?
- How does your project fit within the existing medical/healthcare system?
- What is your invention or technology innovation and how is it technically feasible?
- In what way is it better than alternative solutions on the market?
- Have you developed a physical prototype or proof of concept? What is the next development step, or what are the key technical risks? Have you demonstrated proof of the key principle(s)? Does it work? Consider adding documentation of the development of your prototype, digital documentation, or data demonstrating its effectiveness in the appendix.
- Have you done a prior art search? We suggest that the students consult with their university’s technology transfer office or seek legal advice (pro bono where available) to confirm this. Please explain and include details in your appendix.
- Do you have rights to any key intellectual property, whether ownership, a license, or an option to license? If so, who specifically owns it (the university or names of specific individuals) and who are the named inventors? If not, how do you expect to obtain those rights?
Market potential (1 page): Describe the commercial potential of your technology. We are aware that early-stage teams are in development and, therefore, we recognize that you may have work to do in this area. Address the following in your application narrative with an understanding that strategies may change:
- Describe the market, market size, customers that you intend to reach and through what distribution channels.
- Who are your target customers, and have you talked to any? (Note: Your customers may be different from the end-users of your product or service. Interviews are an important part of the learning process.)
- How does your solution compare to the competition? What makes it different? In what ways does your solution carry advantages over existing solutions?
- What is your commercialization plan? How do you envision your product reaching the market (i.e., direct sales by your own company, licensing, etc.).
- What large-scale impact would successful adoption of your innovation create (e.g., number of lives saved, reduced cost to healthcare systems, increased income to customers, etc.)?
- How do you intend to make this economically sustainable? Describe the costs to produce your product and articulate and rationalize any hypotheses you have on your pricing strategy.
Your Team (half page): Please identify the specific key team members who will see this project through to market and describe why they are a fit for their roles, including US and international students, Principal Investigator, and international faculty/collaborators.
- What is the structure you envision for your venture? Do you expect to form (or have you already formed) a for-profit, nonprofit, or joint venture?
- Who are the key team members and what roles will they play (1–2 sentences on each)? Please specify which key team members are currently students. Note: There must be at least TWO active, enrolled students on the team for the duration of the grant period.
- Please describe how the backgrounds, experiences, and/or identities of the team members reflect the knowledge, skills and attitudes that help: overcome or navigate challenges, think compassionately or creatively, foster commitment, and/or other skills or approaches that are critical to success in innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Who will lead the technical development and business model development?
- Point to evidence of the team members’ intentions to commercialize the technology.
- Do you have outside mentors and/or advisors? If you do not have mentors, advisors, partners, or other innovation & entrepreneurship resources, please describe any challenges you face in accessing these resources or opportunities within or outside of your institution, and how the VentureWell program may help to fill that gap.
International Partnership (half page): Please identify the in-country partners and collaborators (e.g., universities, institutions, nonprofits, NGOs) who will see this project through to market and describe why they are a fit for the partnership.
- How will an international partnership help solve the problem you are addressing?
- How does your project support the existing local in-country capacity to solve the problem?
- What is your existing relationship with the in-country partner institution and how does this project align with their priorities?
- How does the partnership being proposed add unique value to the project?
- How will local partners continue this work after the grant period?
- Explain how the team will address possible language, cultural, and social barriers. Has the team traveled to the community in which you propose to work?
- Articulate how the regulatory and political environment of the proposed site is conducive to accelerating the development of your solution.
Work plan and outcomes (one page): Summarize a realistic and specific plan for moving forward toward commercialization.
- In a table format, list the 10 to 15 high-level steps, describing each briefly, and include a timeline for the next 12 months.
- What does success look like and how will you measure it? Please articulate outcomes that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound.
- What internal (university-based) or external resources do you have available to support your project? Have there been any barriers to access internal or external resources? Please explain.
Proposed budget: Your proposed budget is a key element of your application. Up to $13,000 may be requested and must be allocated as follows:
- $9,000 E-Team grant for students
- $4,000 funds for faculty, including travel to and participation in the BME-IDEA conference fall 2022
Grant funds may be used for expenses related to the technical and commercial development of this project, including but not limited to: prototyping materials and supplies; customer discovery-related activities, travel to the in-country partnership site and other meetings; student stipends, consulting and technical services; and business expenses. The use of funds should align with the proposed timeline and activities in the proposal. The grantee institution owns any equipment purchased with grant funds, and therefore may impact IP developed with the equipment. Please be aware of your university’s IP policies. Please note that VentureWell will typically not fund the purchase of equipment that is considered part of a college or university infrastructure. Proposed funds for equipment should be less than 1/3 the total proposed budget.
Instructions and specific expense definitions can be found in the budget section of the application, and are also summarized below. Be sure to explain your proposed expenses in the “justifications” section of the budget step.
Eligible expenses examples:
- Travel (domestic or international)
- Conference registrations
- Materials and supplies
- Equipment expenses totaling less than 1/3 the total proposed budget
- Consulting and technical services that cannot be obtained within the university
- Other direct costs
- Student stipends (up to $3,000 total)
Ineligible expenses examples:
- Equipment expenses above 1/3 the total proposed budget
- Indirect costs/overhead/F&A*
- Faculty salaries
- Publicity expenses
*Please note: VentureWell does not allow overhead to be taken out of any of its grant awards.
Letter(s) of Support
Letters of support demonstrate to reviewers that there is institutional support for your project and/or to verify partnerships discussed in your narrative. At least two letters are required as part of your application: one from your university/college to demonstrate institutional support and one from your in-country partner institution.
Resumes should be no more than two pages each and are required only for key team members. No more than four resumes should be included. We do not need resumes for the Administrative Contact or other non-key team members or collaborators.
Optional Application Components
Additional Appendices: You may include appendices to your application. You may add up to five additional documents, no more than 10 MB in total. Appendices may include but are not limited to:
- Images demonstrating design and/or technical feasibility (drawings, photographs, etc.)
- Any data collected as part of testing your technology
- A summary of prior art
- A visual tool to illustrate the competitive landscape and/or your competitive advantage
- A pitch deck that succinctly summarizes your plans in no more than 10 slides
- Narrative(s) demonstrating interactions and learnings you’ve had with potential customers
- A literature review summary
- Any other relevant supporting materials
Note: Sheer volume of material is not an asset. Any documents included in the appendix should be referenced in the narrative. Reviewers are directed to use supporting materials only as a supplement. All key information should be included in the main proposal narrative.
Weblinks and/or Videos: In addition to the appendices mentioned above, teams may upload up to three additional links, which may include online articles, videos and/or other relevant data. If you choose to include a video as part of your application, a link to the video should be uploaded as an appendix item and referenced in the narrative. Keep videos under two minutes. A video pitch, if included, should state the problem, describe your innovation, and the impact of the team’s solution. Clear, non-technical language is acceptable and may be preferable.
Application Selection and Notification
Selection: In general, eligible applications will be evaluated on the following six elements:
- Technology innovation and feasibility
- Market, commercial potential, and proposed business model
- Team composition, skills, commitment, and institutional support
- International partnership & collaboration
- Positive social and/or environmental impact
- Realistic work plan & budget
Eligible applications are reviewed by an external panel of reviewers comprised of individuals from academia, industry, nonprofits or NGOs, and venture capital who have experience in biomedical engineering, science and technology and/or in the commercialization of early-stage innovations.
If Your Application Is Approved
We will send via email a formal notification letter and approved budget to the PI, the AC, and the Applicant.
We also will send an Award Letter agreement for signature to the AC identified by you in your application.
Funds can be disbursed once this award letter is signed and returned to VentureWell. Grant reporting requirements will be outlined in this award letter.
BME-IDEA International E-Teams must commit to having two key team members (one US-based student and one international student) fully participate in the virtual Pioneer workshop. Accepted teams will receive a link for registration. See the BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant Program webpage for the workshop dates.
For additional information or questions about the funding, please contact the VentureWell Grants Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessing The Funds: Your Administrative Contact or PI can outline for you your university’s specific process for accessing grant funds. Please be sure you understand the steps necessary to access the funds well before the funds are disbursed. The following are often part of this process:
- A post-award individual is assigned to oversee the grant.
- A financial account is created. In this case, you’ll be given an accounting code and will submit invoices or reimbursement requests against this code, often to your post-award contact or finance office.
Your PI is ultimately responsible for tracking, overseeing, and reporting on the disbursement of grant funds.
Congratulations, you’ve read the entire guidelines! Now start your application!
If you have any questions about the BME-IDEA International E-Team Grant program, please email email@example.com.
For questions about the grant or application process please email or call firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-587-2172.