qualification phase guidelines


The E-Team Qualification Phase gives student teams the opportunity to receive a rapid response on the fit and eligibility of their innovation for the E-Team program, as well as receive personalized feedback, before completing a full Stage 1 grant proposal.

* Only teams who are planning on applying for a Stage 1 E-Team Grant should submit a Qualification Phase application. Stage 2 applicants should not submit a Qualification Phase application.

While the Qualification Phase is optional, VentureWell strongly encourages teams to take advantage of this opportunity to vet the eligibility of your innovation or invention with the goal of strengthening your Stage 1 proposal prior to submission. If your innovation is a good fit for the E-Teams Program, you will be invited to submit a Stage 1 proposal.

Please note: 

  • Teams do not need to secure VentureWell membership in order to submit a Qualification Phase application.
  • VentureWell membership IS required to submit a Stage 1 proposal.

Why should you submit a Qualification Phase application?

  • Personalized feedback:  If invited,our team will receive individual feedback on your application that can be applied to help strengthen your Stage 1 application.
  • Invitation Letter: Teams who submit successful Qualification Phase proposals will receive a detailed email formally inviting them to apply to Stage 1 of the program that they can share with their university administration to help expedite the membership process (renewal or obtaining new membership).
  • Application support webinar: If invited to submit at Stage 1 application, your team will take part in an informational webinar to learn about the application process, as well as tips for navigating your university’s administrative system. VentureWell staff will be on hand to offer any support you need to complete your Stage 1 application.

Is my innovation a fit for the E-Team Grant Program? 

VentureWell supports the development of science/engineering-based innovations that are scalable, commercially promising, and have a positive impact on the world.

 Your innovation is a fit if:

  • It is a science/engineering-based invention that is different from other competing technologies
  • It addresses a large social, environmental, or economic problem
  • Your team is committed to commercializing your innovation

Examples of the types of engineered, physical products VentureWell funds:

  • Biomedical devices, health care diagnostics, and/or global health technologies
  • Clean technologies related to renewable energy, energy storage, agriculture, or water
  • Green chemistry and sustainable materials
  • Technologies for low-resource settings (US and/or internationally) that address poverty and basic human needs such as affordable energy, clean water, sanitation, health and medical devices, agriculture, and other income-generating tools
  • Other compelling technologies beyond those listed above that meet the program criteria will also be considered if there is a strong and logical description of the product’s social or environmental impact.

Examples of projects that are not a fit for the E-Team Program:

  • Web-based or mobile apps that are innovative or impactful
  • Projects without a clearly articulated social and/or environmental impact
  • 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 intent, application, or potential
  • Therapeutics and drugs 
  • Projects without a clear technology invention or innovation
  • One-time projects that are not scalable
  • 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.

How to Apply 

All applications must be submitted via VentureWell’s online proposal system. Any member of your team may serve as the applicant on a submission. All deadlines end at 11:59 pm Eastern Time on the deadline date unless otherwise indicated. 

The first step in the application process is to sign up for a VentureWell account, which you can obtain in a few simple steps. To access an existing account or to create a new one, click here. Once you have a VentureWell account, you may start, save, stop and return to your online submission at any time before submitting.

Submit your Qualification Phase application in a few simple steps!

  • Log into your VentureWell account.
  • Navigate to “Open Opportunities” and click the Qualification Phase application.
  • Complete your application by answering a few short questions about your technology/project/innovation and team.
  • Submit your application.

Please note: The Qualification Phase is open to student-led teams from US-based colleges or universities, not for individual inventors.

Next steps after submitting your Qualification Phase application

You will be notified of your fit and eligibility status soon after the Qualification Phase submission deadline. If your project is a fit for the E-Team Program, you will receive a written acceptance letter that will serve as an invitation to complete a Stage 1 proposal. This letter will also contain feedback on your Qualification Phase Application for you to use in developing your Stage 1 application, as well as details about joining the application support webinar.

In order to apply to Stage 1 you will need to fulfill all fit and eligibility requirements. Before you begin, thoroughly review the Stage 1 guidelines. Make sure you understand your university’s grant proposal process, as well as the steps and procedures for submitting a full proposal in our system, which includes submitting a 5-page proposal narrative, team resumes, and letters of support. Please note: E-Team proposals are reviewed by a panel of external reviewers and acceptance into Stage 1 is not guaranteed.

If you are invited to submit a Stage 1 proposal, in addition to the above eligibility requirements, you will need to:

  • 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 do not accept proposals from international universities at this time.
  • Be from a VentureWell member institution, or obtain membership. Your institution must be a VentureWell member at the time of your Stage 1 E-Team application submission. To check the member status of your institution, click here: If your university is not a current Member, you can read more about the benefits of membership, as well as how to apply or renew, here. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact membership@venturewell.org.
  • Demonstrate institutional support. All teams are required to obtain verifications of support ​from a Principal Investigator (PI), Administrative Contact (AC), and Department Chair (DC). See “Required Verifications of Support” section of the Stage 1 guidelines for details.
  • Be Committed. You intend to explore the commercialization opportunity for your innovation.

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.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the E-Team program, please email Cara Barnes, Senior Program Officer, at cbarnes@venturewell.org.
For questions about the grant or application process please email grants@venturewell.org or call 413-587-2172.

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