Please see the guidelines page for complete information.
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How do we know if our project is a fit for the E-Team Program?
If your project/product is a technology innovation that will benefit people or the planet and your intention is to get it to the market, you’re a fit! Competitive proposals demonstrate the following:
- Your team is solving a big problem (or addressing a big opportunity)
- Your product has a positive impact on society
- What your team is doing is scalable
Still not sure? Contact us.
What types of projects/products does VentureWell fund?
Some examples include medical or healthcare-related devices; products to aid in poverty alleviation or address basic human needs; and clean/green technologies. We mostly fund physical or engineered products, but have funded software or mobile products that fulfill the other criteria.
We are currently students but one or both of us are graduating—can we still apply?
We require at least two active and enrolled students on the team for the duration of the grant (Stage 1 = 6-8 months; Stage 2 = 18 months). If you are graduating but plan to continue with the project you will need to recruit additional students to your team.
Can international teams apply to the E-Team Program?
VentureWell awards grants to U.S.-based colleges and universities only, but we do fund U.S.-based teams serving international markets and U.S.-based teams with international student members.
I’m an independent inventor. Can I apply to the E-Team Program?
VentureWell grants are awarded to colleges and universities, not directly to individuals and/or ventures. If you are a student with an innovation, you need a team, consisting of other students, a Principal Investigator, advisors, mentors, etc., in order to qualify for the E-Team Program. Individuals do not qualify.
There are many resources for independent inventors. Here are a few:
Can my team still apply if we didn’t invent the product and/or don’t own the IP?
Yes, teams working on technologies invented by faculty (or other students) may apply for the program if the intent of the university is to further develop the product for commercialization AND if the current student team members are playing meaningful roles in the process.
I’m a faculty member with an innovation. If I recruit some students to help me would it make me eligible for the E-Team Program?
Yes, so long as the recruited students are playing meaningful roles and are driving development. Students should serve as the entrepreneurial leaders of a team, regardless of the origin of the idea or invention. Please refer to the “minimum requirements for eligible teams” section of the guidelines for more information.
Working with your institution
How can my college or university become a VentureWell member?
VentureWell’s College/University Membership is the membership level that packs the most value, allowing all members of an academic institution to receive member benefits, such as applying for our grant funding or training programs. The College/University rate is $999 and is billed annually. Any School or Department can pay for the institution’s membership. More information can be found here.
What is a Qualification Phase application?
The E-Teams Qualification Phase application is the first step in submitting a full Stage 1 grant application. Student teams complete a short online application and submit an Executive Summary through our online portal. Teams will receive feedback detailing whether their innovation is eligible and a good fit for the E-Team program. VentureWell membership is NOT required to submit an application for the Qualification Phase.
Is the Qualification Phase application optional?
Yes. While the Qualification Phase application is optional, VentureWell strongly encourages teams to take advantage of this opportunity to check your eligibility and strengthen your full Stage 1 application prior to submission. If your Qualification Phase application is a good fit for the E-Teams Program, you will be formally invited to submit a Stage 1 application.
Why should I submit a Qualification Phase application?
Submitting a Qualification Phase application offers teams the opportunity to strengthen their application through personalized feedback from our staff and the support they need to navigate their institution’s administrative approval system.
- Rapid personalized feedback: Teams will receive prompt feedback on the fit & eligibility of their innovation prior to spending time and effort writing a full E-Team application and requiring your institution to obtain VentureWell membership.
- Exclusive webinar: Teams invited to submit a Stage 1 application can take part in an exclusive informational webinar to get tips and suggestions for navigating your university’s administrative system and get the support you need to apply to Stage 1.
- Formal Invitation: If you’re invited to submit to Stage 1, you’ll have a formal invitation to share with university administration to help expedite membership renewal (if necessary) and institutional support.
Can I submit a Stage 1 application if I submitted a Qualification Phase application that was turned down?
Teams who submit a Qualification Phase application who are not invited to submit a Stage 1 application may still do so at their own discretion. It is advised that these teams carefully review the Eligibility Guidelines prior to assembling their Stage 1 application, as VentureWell institutional membership is required to submit a full Stage 1 proposal.
What are the minimum requirements to apply?
You need to have:
- A student-led team of at least two active and enrolled students at a VentureWell-member college or university who are committed to development/commercialization of the technology
- A technology innovation that benefits society (people or the environment)
- A Principal Investigator who supports and oversees the project
- Support of your university (Administrative Contact, most often in the Office of Sponsored Programs) and department (Chair)
How are teams selected for the program?
Each year, VentureWell funds approximately 50 Stage 1 teams and 20 Stage 2 teams. E-Team Program proposals are reviewed by VentureWell staff and external experts in technology, venture development, commercialization, and entrepreneurship. A review panel may consist of university faculty and staff, individuals from industry, non- profit/NGOs or government organizations, venture capital and/or angel investors, and/or serial entrepreneurs.
How do I apply?
We accept applications via our web portal only. You will need to have or create a VentureWell account in order to submit. Create an account or sign in here. You may start, save, stop, and return to your online proposal at any time before submitting.
When do I apply?
There are three E-Team Program cycles per year: one in the fall (October deadline); one in the winter (January/February deadline), and one in the spring (May deadline). You must submit your proposal by 11:59 PM ET on the day of the grant deadline in order to be considered. Typically VentureWell opens the call for applications about 6-8 weeks before the deadline. Teams can begin writing their proposal narrative at any time. Refer to the Stage 1 program guidelines for details on proposal narrative.
I’ve applied to the program. When will I hear whether I’ve been accepted?
All teams will be notified of their status via email within 60 days of the deadline date. Notifications will be sent to the Principal Investigator, Administrative Contact, and student team leader. If you are accepted into the program, your notification email will include programmatic details and a link to register for the workshop (please be aware of these dates when you apply).
What do I need to submit?
The application consists of the following parts:
- 5-page narrative
- At least one letter of support (up to 3 may be submitted)
- Team member resumes (up to 4, 2-pages each, maximum)
- Online verification of support from your PI, an Administrative Contact (most often from the Office of Sponsored Programs) and your Department Chair
- Optional appendices, including additional document and weblinks
Is the E-Team proposal considered a public disclosure?
Although your proposal is not accessible to anyone other than reviewers and VentureWell staff, we recommend that before submitting you take appropriate steps to protect your intellectual property. If you have not done so, please do your best to summarize what is unique about your technology and the data you have to prove that. Read and understand your university’s intellectual property policy before submitting an application.
How much detail do you want about my technology? Do I need to tell you our “secret sauce”?
You should include as much detail as you feel comfortable disclosing. Reviewers want data that shows the feasibility of your technology, but you should not disclose anything that might jeopardize your IP protection. When describing your innovation, think about what makes it unique compared to other solutions to the problem you’re solving.
What’s the difference between the Stage 1 and Stage 2 applications?
- Stage 1 and Stage 2 proposals are reviewed using the same main criteria, but commercialization potential, scalability, and the proposed work plan are weighted a bit more heavily for Stage 2 proposals.
- Teams applying for Stage 2 of the program are instructed to revisit and strengthen their original Stage 1 application package. The Stage 2 guidelines provide more details.
- Teams applying to Stage 2 will also be required to submit a budget that describes how the team intends to use their $20,000 award.
I’ve been working on my venture for a while—can I apply directly to Stage 2?
No, all teams enter the program at the Stage 1 level.
What is Stage 3 and how do I apply?
Stage 3 of the E-Team Program, ASPIRE, helps teams create a venture development plan to prepare for relationships with investors and strategic partners. Two sector-specific programs are offered each year and application is by invitation only. The program includes a matching investment opportunity of up to $50K for a select 2-3 Stage 3 teams per year. For more information please contact an E-Team Program staff member.
Use of funds
Can the grant funding be awarded directly to my team?
No, VentureWell grant funding is awarded to your college or university. Grant funds are administered by an institution’s office of sponsored programs or an equivalent entity. Every institution works a bit differently, so we strongly encourage you to identify an administrative point of contact early, and work with that person to learn about your university’s internal processes and procedures. If you are accepted into the E-Team Program, you and your team will be working with your administrative point of contact on reimbursement for expenses/access to the grant funding.
If my team is funded, how can we use the grant funds?
A portion of the grant funds is intended to cover expenses related to your team’s participation in the required program workshops. Stage 1 does not require a budget in advance. Any remaining funds after the required Stage 1 workshop expenses are covered can be used to further develop your product.
The Stage 2 guidelines outline how Stage 2 grant funds can be used. A proposed budget is a required part of the Stage 2 application. Check the Stage-2-ET-Proposed-Budget-2015-16_revised for additional information.
VentureWell does not allow overhead to be taken from grants funds. We strongly recommend that teams consult with their office of sponsored programs (or equivalent) to learn their institution’s rules about overhead before submitting an application.
Most common mistakes
What is the most common mistake E-Team Program applicants make?
The most common mistake applicants make is underestimating the time it takes to navigate their institution’s administrative structure. Many university offices of sponsored programs (or equivalent) require a completed proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted. Teams are strongly encouraged to review the proposal guidelines AND the application steps well in advance of the deadline and to contact your office of sponsored programs (or equivalent) to review your university’s requirements.
For newly funded grantees
If my team applies and is accepted, what are my responsibilities?
If your team is accepted into Stage 1 of the program two student team members (the student team leader plus one additional team member) will be required to attend The Stage 1 three-day workshop. Check the calendar graphic for the upcoming workshop dates. At the end of the grant period your Principal Investigator will be prompted to complete a final report describing the status of the project, milestones, impact and how the funds were used. Student team members are expected to contribute to report.
Can you tell me more about the E-Teams training workshops?
In Pioneer, the training component of the Stage 1 grant, science and technology innovators orient themselves and understand possible pathways for their venture, creating action plans to check fundamental assumptions. Propel, the training component of the Stage 2 grant, helps science and tech innovators map and validate the pathway for their venture, digging into business model design and mapping action plans to engage stakeholders and de-risk their venture. ASPIRE is the startup launchpad. Here, ventures prepare for investment through multi-day mentor engagements, stress tests, work-product creation and network building.
Can my Principal Investigator attend the workshop?
Under some circumstances we allow the Principal Investigator to participate in the workshop. Please contact David D’Angelo to discuss.
Can I bring a guest to the workshop?
No, we do not allow guests or observers; only registered team members may attend.
Is there a fee to attend the E-Team workshops?
There is no registration fee for the required E-Team Program workshops. Teams are encouraged to use their Stage 1 or Stage 2 grants to offset the costs associated with travel during the three-day workshop (transportation, hotel, meals, etc.). Additional details about workshop logistics will be shared with your team when you register.
Still can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us.
Please see the “How to Apply” page for complete information.