Propel for E-Teams

Application Guidelines

Propel for E-Teams is the second stage in The E-Team Program, part of the VentureWell Accelerator. Selected Propel teams receive a $20,000 grant and entry into the accompanying Propel entrepreneurship training workshop. Please note: Only student teams who have completed the Pioneer for E-Teams (Stage 1) workshop are eligible to apply to Propel for E-Teams.


How To Apply
Required Application Components



Thank you for your interest in the Propel for E-Teams! Propel is intended to support teams in further developing their inventions/innovations and plans for commercialization. Propel grantees have approximately 18 months to spend the grant funds

Eligibility Requirements

You may apply for Propel for E-Teams if:

  • You have successfully completed the Pioneer workshop
  • You demonstrate continuing commitment to move your technology towards commercialization
  • You have at least two students on your team for the duration of the grant OR your academic institution agrees to continue administering the grant funds on your behalf
  • You have university support in the form of a Principal Investigator and an Administrative Contact

Propel for E-Teams applications will be evaluated against the same five elements used for the evaluation of Pioneer for E-Teams program applications:

  1. Technology innovation and feasibility
  2. Market and commercial potential and business model
  3. Team composition, skills, commitment, and institutional support
  4. Positive social and/or environmental impact
  5. Realistic work plan

When assessing Propel for E-Teams applications, greater emphasis will be placed on the business model, commercial potential and the team’s commitment to venture development.

Full participation by two student team members in the corresponding Propel workshop is required in order to receive the associated $20,000 in grant funds. Both members must attend the entire workshop; teams may not attend a partial workshop. If possible, for continuity, the same team members who attended the Pioneer workshop should attend the Propel workshop. Due to space and budget constraints we can accommodate two team members only, but exceptions may be made in rare cases.

A portion of the Propel for E-Teams grant funds must be used to cover team costs associated with attending the required Propel workshop. Funds may also be requested for supplies, equipment, and/or expenses related to project development and advancement, including customer discovery, preliminary legal fees, and student stipends. E-Team Program grant funds cannot be used to cover institutional overhead. More information about eligible and ineligible expenses can be found in the “Propel for E-Teams proposal” section of these guidelines.

Propel for E-Teams Application Process

How To Apply

Application via the VentureWell Communities Portal
All program applications must be submitted via our online system. Anyone on the team may serve as the applicant on a submission. ALL deadlines end at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on the specified due date unless otherwise indicated.

To start, you’ll need to have a VentureWell account (you should have created one when you applied for Pioneer for E-Teams). Creating an account is easy, and anyone can do it. To access an existing account or to create a new one, click here.

Required Application Components

The following documents are required as part of the Propel for E-Teams proposal and must be included in the following order, combined together into a single PDF.

  • Revised narrative (no more than five pages)
  • Proposed budget (Table included in application)
  • Letter(s) of support (a minimum of one is required, a maximum of three may be included)
  • Team member resumes (up to four resumes, three-page limit per resume)

Revised Narrative (Required)

Using the reviewer feedback shared with teams prior to the Pioneer workshop, as well as the learning outcomes from the workshop, please revise your previously submitted five-page narrative using the same basic structure and parameters. Please be sure that your revised narrative includes the following:

  • Articulation of a clear value proposition with an emphasis on the commercial potential of the venture. Include a specific plan and your position in the value chain, whether that’s licensing or direct sales.
  • Team updates (if any) including new members, team member roles, and who on the team will attend the required workshop if your team is accepted into Propel for E-Teams.
  • Revised work plan that includes what your team expects to complete during the Propel for E-Teams grant period (approximately 18 months). Be sure to align the work plan with the proposed budget.
  • Use text, images, charts, graphs, etc., to tell the story of the product/project/ venture.

Proposed Budget

Your proposed budget is a key element of your Propel for E-Teams application. $20,000 may be requested and should support the team’s successful completion of the milestones laid out in your proposal.

Please be aware of your university’s IP policies. The grantee institution owns any equipment purchased with E-Team grant funds, and therefore may impact IP developed with the equipment. 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:

  • Materials and supplies
  • Student stipends (no more than $4,000 per person or $10,000 per project)
  • Travel to the Propel workshop
  • Other travel related to customer discovery and participation in relevant
  • Equipment expenses totaling less than 1/3 the total proposed budget
  • Consulting and technical services that cannot be obtained within the university
  • Expenses related to performing patent searches, disclosures and applications, or creating marketing or business plans

Ineligible expenses examples:

  • Equipment expenses above 1/3 the total proposed budget
  • Indirect costs/overhead*
  • Faculty salaries
  • Publicity expenses
  • Student stipends totaling over $4,000 per person or $10,000 per project

*Please note: VentureWell does not allow overhead to be taken out of E-Team
Program grant awards.

Letter(s) of Support

Letters of support demonstrate to reviewers that there is institutional support for your project and/or verify partnerships discussed in your narrative. At least one letter is required as part of your proposal. You may include up to three total. More weight will be given to letters of support from potential customers, partners, industry experts, and mentors that verify the key elements of your proposal over general letters of support from friends, family, or supportive faculty (although these may also be appropriate and of value). The same letter(s) used in your Pioneer for E-Teams proposal may be used for your Propel for E-Teams proposal, but it is advisable to obtain new or updated support letters based on reviewer feedback on your Pioneer for E-Teams proposal, learning outcomes from the Pioneer workshop, or additional progress made.

Team Resumes

Resumes should be no more than three pages each and are only required for key team members, with a maximum of four resumes included. We do not need resumes for the Administrative Contact or other non-key team members/collaborators. The same resumes used in your Pioneer for E-Teams proposal may be used for the Propel for E-Teams proposal.

Optional Application Components

Additional Appendices: Up to five additional appendices may be included in your proposal. These may be the same documents included in your Pioneer for E-Teams proposal, or they may be different. Appendices may include but are not limited to:

  • Additional detailed images demonstrating design and/or technical feasibility (drawings, photographs, etc.)
  • A summary of prior art
  • Literature review summary
  • Any data collected as part of testing your technology
  • Any other relevant supporting materials

Sheer volume of material is not an asset—be sure everything included in the appendix is there for a reason and is referenced in the narrative. Reviewers are directed to use supporting materials only to supplement the five-page narrative, so all key information should be included there.

Weblinks and/or Videos: In addition to the appendices mentioned above, teams may upload up to five links, such as links to online articles, videos and/or other relevant online data. You may submit a 1-2 minute video pitch to describe your technology to reviewers. If included, the video should state the problem and describe your innovation and the impact of the team’s solution. Clear, non-technical language is acceptable and may be preferable. If you choose to include a video as part of your proposal, a link to the video should be uploaded as an appendix item and referenced in the narrative.

Application Selection and Notification

  • Your proposal will be reviewed by a panel of reviewers made up of individuals from academia, industry, nonprofits and/or venture capital with experience in the technology areas and in the commercialization of early stage innovations.
  • Your Propel for E-Teams proposal will likely be evaluated by different people than those who evaluated your Pioneer for E-Teams proposal, so assume reviewers are unfamiliar with your technology and team.
  • VentureWell will notify applicants of the status of their proposals via email within 60 days of the submission deadline.
  • About 50% of the submitted Propel for E-Teams proposals are approved.
  • Occasionally, reviewers invite a team to resubmit their proposal in a future cycle for reconsideration, after certain concerns or questions are addressed. Applicants invited by reviewers to resubmit should contact VentureWell to discuss the reviewer feedback in detail and make sure they understand the questions and concerns raised. Resubmitted proposals must specify how previous concerns have been addressed.

If Your Application Is Approved

Principal Investigators for VentureWell grants are responsible for reporting on Stage 2 team activities and will be prompted via email at the end of the 18- month period to complete a final report online. If you are accepted into Propel for E-Teams, reporting deadlines will be detailed in your award letter, which is sent to the Administrative Contact, with a copy to the Principal Investigator.

  • VentureWell will send the Principal Investigator a formal notification letter and approved budget.
  • Grant funds will be awarded to the team’s college or university for use by the team.
  • Selected Propel teams will need to identify and register the two key team members who will participate in the Propel workshop.
  • VentureWell will send an amendment to the Pioneer for E-Teams contract for signature to the Administrative Contact identified by the team. Once this award amendment is signed and returned to VentureWell, funds can be disbursed.
  • Because there is often a short window of time between the notification of the award and the Propel workshop, teams may need to cover travel to the workshop up front and get reimbursed from the grant once the funding is available.

Congratulations, you’ve read the entire guidelines! Now start your application!

If you have any questions about the E-Team Program, please email Sarah Wharmby.

For questions about the grant or application process please email or call or (413) 587-2172.

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