e-team program frequently asked questions

Please see the guidelines page for complete information.

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QUESTIONS ARE ORGANIZED BY THE CATEGORIES BELOW. CLICK ON THE CATEGORY TO JUMP TO THAT SECTION.

Program eligibility
Qualification Phase
Applying
Use of grant funds
For newly funded grantees

Program eligibility

How do we know if our project is a fit for the E-Team Program?
If your project or product is a science/engineering-based 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 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.

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Qualification Phase

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. If their innovation is a good fit for the E-Team program, the team will receive personalized feedback on their innovation, an invitation to submit a Stage 1 proposal, and the opportunity to join an application support webinar.

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 vet the eligibility of their innovation for the program and strengthen their full Stage 1 application prior to submission.

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.

  • 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.

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 and submitting their Stage 1 application.

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Applying

Should I apply for Stage 1 or Stage 2?

Teams who have never received Stage 1 funding and who have not attended the Pioneer training workshop must apply to Stage 1. Teams who have completed the Pioneer training workshop should apply for a Stage 2 grant.

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.

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

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)

When do I apply?
There are three E-Team application cycles per year—with deadlines in October, January/February, and May. Applications must be submitted by 11:59pm 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 narratives 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).

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.

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 in the application process between Stage 1 and Stage 2?

  • 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, no matter the circumstance, 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. 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.

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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.

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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 Pioneer workshop. 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?
The VentureWell Early-Stage Innovator (ESI) Training Program brings together the best in student science and tech innovators and entrepreneurs for an intensive workshop design to help teams dig deep into topics like business model development, customer discovery, team dynamics, value chains, and intellectual property. During the training workshops, students will learn what it takes to launch and scale a venture from our experienced program team, expert mentors, guest speakers, and thought leaders in social impact entrepreneurship & innovation. You can read more about the content of each workshop HERE.

Can my Principal Investigator attend the workshop?
Under some circumstances we allow the Principal Investigator to participate in the workshop. Please contact Cara Barnes 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.

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Still can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us.

Please see the How to Apply page for complete information.

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