March 2009

About Olympus

Olympus is a precision technology leader, creating innovative opto-digital solutions in healthcare, life science and consumer electronics products. Olympus works collaboratively with its customers and its affiliates worldwide to leverage R&D investment in precision technology and manufacturing processes across diverse business lines. These include:

  • Gastrointestinal endoscopes, accessories, and minimally invasive surgical products;
  • Advanced clinical and research microscopes;
  • Lab automation systems, chemistry-immuno and blood bank analyzers and reagents;
  • Digital cameras and voice recorders.

Olympus serves healthcare and commercial laboratory markets with integrated product solutions and financial, educational and consulting services that help customers to efficiently, reliably and more easily achieve exceptional results. Olympus develops breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality for the consumer and professional photography markets, and also is the leader in gastrointestinal endoscopy and clinical and educational microscopes. For more information, visit www.olympusamerica.com.

Olympus Innovation Awards 2007 Winners

NCIIA recognizes the 2007 winners in the Olympus Innovation Award Program: Dr. Deborah Streeter, Cornell University; Burt Swersey, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); and William Grant, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).  The program recognizes individuals who have fostered and demonstrated innovative thinking in higher education.  The winners received their awards from George Steares, vice president emeritus, Olympus America, in Tampa, Fla., at the NCIIA 11th Annual Meeting.
“Congratulations to the 2007 winners of the Olympus Innovation Award Program,” said Steares.  “I was most impressed with their innovative teaching methods and the profound impact they have had on so many students to become successful inventors and entrepreneurs.  Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, a key element of Olympus’ management philosophy, is essential for companies to succeed in the U.S. and even more so internationally.”
Phil Weilerstein, NCIIA executive director, added, “The 2007 winners once again illustrate the essential role that higher education can play in grooming this country’s next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. We are pleased about the visibility and the high quality of applications the Olympus Innovation Award Program is enjoying and look forward to continuing our partnership with Olympus to make the program even more successful.”
Streeter, the Bruce F. Failing, senior associate professor of personal enterprise in Cornell University’s Department of Applied Economics and Management, won the Olympus Innovation Award in recognition for her contributions to Cornell and, more broadly, for being a pioneer in innovation and entrepreneurship education.  The judges were particularly impressed with Streeter’s “e-Clips” initiative, a collection of more than 6,000 digital video clips on entrepreneurship, the world’s largest such online collection.
Created from in-depth interviews or presentations by entrepreneurs; venture capitalists, bankers and other start-up capital providers; as well as employees of start-up companies, e-Clips provides rich media curricular material (video, audio) to easily help educators share rich information on entrepreneurship with their students.  To date, the database has attracted users from 70 countries and nearly 800 different universities.  As part of her award, Streeter will receive $10,000.
Swersey, lecturer in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at RPI, won the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award for his dedication to innovative thinking and his commitment to his students and their learning.  Prior to joining RPI, Swersey was a successful innovator in the medical field.  He developed a number of important inventions, including an extremely accurate scale to weigh patients, including bed and instrumentation, revolutionizing the treatment of water losses in patients with severe burns.  For the past 18 years, Swersey has taught the ideals and methods of innovation and has served as a role model to students.  Many of these students have made significant impacts, either as entrepreneurs or as product designers for well-established companies, accumulating patents and business plan competition awards.  Swersey’s award includes a $2,500 prize.
Grant, program manager of the Technology Management Program at UCSB’s College of Engineering, received the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award for his work at UCSB in creating and managing extracurricular activities that enable students to network and share knowledge and experience with successful scientists, entrepreneurs and other business experts.  Grant facilitates this dialogue through intimate working luncheons, small seminars, lectures and his “On the Edge” radio program on KCSB91.9FM.  Created and hosted by Grant and UCSB students, the weekly show features successful entrepreneurs and innovators and discusses how ideas become inventions.  In recognition of his work, Grant will receive $1,000.
Streeter, Swersey and Grant were among numerous qualified professionals nominated by colleagues at NCIIA member institutions, including many top colleges and research institutions in the United States. The Olympus Innovation Award Program, now in its third year, represents Olympus’ ongoing commitment to technological innovation and education.  For more information about the program, see the backgrounder at www.olympuspresspass.com, and contact the NCIIA at info@nciia.org or visit www.nciia.org.

Olympus Innovation Awards

Recognizing faculty excellence and innovation in higher education

The Olympus Innovation Awards will not be held in 2012. Following the retirement of its CEO, Mark Gumz, Olympus is restructuring in the Americas. Olympus expressed deep admiration for NCIIA and its members, winners and nominees  – and their vital innovations – supported by our long-standing relationship. NCIIA greatly appreciates Olympus's long-term commitment to recognizing faculty excellence and innovation in higher education. Olympus hopes to continue the relationship and renew its support of NCIIA initiatives in the future.
 

 

2011 Olympus Innovation Award Winners

 

The winners of the 7th Annual Olympus Innovation Awards were announced Friday, March 25, at the awards luncheon at Open 2011, the NCIIA's 15th Annual Conference.

The winners are:

  • Amy Smith from MIT wins the Olympus Innovation Award ($10,000)
  • Dr. Ashok Gadgil from University of California, Berkeley wins the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award ($2,500) 
  • Dr. Soumyadipta Acharya from Johns Hopkins University wins the Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award ($1,000)

 

Amy Smith accepts her award:

 

Dr. Ashok Gadgil accepts his award:

 

More about the 2011 Awards

See the press release.

The Olympus Innovation Awards are an opportunity to recognize faculty and staff from NCIIA member institutions who have fostered or demonstrated innovative thinking in education.

  • The Olympus Innovation Award ($10,000) recognizes the work of an outstanding faculty member in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship education
  • The Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award ($2,500) recognizes the sustained contributions of an outstanding faculty member who has devoted his or her career to innovative education
  • The Olympus Emerging Educational Leader Award ($1,000) recognizes the work of a faculty member who, early in his or her career, shows outstanding leadership promise in the field of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship education

Previous winners are not eligible for re-nomination, nor are NCIIA board members, staff or families of staff. However, if you were nominated in the past but not selected, we encourage you to apply again. Several past winners were nominated more than once!


2012 Olympus Innovation Awards ceremony

The awards will be announced and presented to the winners at Open 2012 in San Francisco, on March 23, 2012.

 

 

 

Amy Smith, a recognized leader in the field of appropriate technology design, is the 2011 Olympus Innovation Award winner. Amy has been rewarded previously with both a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2004 and as one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people in the April 2010 TIME 100 issue.

She is cited for her conceptualization and creation of D-Lab, a program fostering the creation and dissemination of inexpensive technologies to solve problems in developing countries. In D-Lab, students learn about international development and appropriate technology and work with community partners in the field to test and refine the technology to ensure it becomes a sustainable solution.

 

 

 

Course and Program Guidelines

NCIIA Course and Program Grant Guidelines – Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the entire guidelines prior to submitting.

Introduction | Who May Apply | Selection Criteria | Institutional Support | Intellectual Property Policies | How to Apply | The Proposal: Required and Optional Components | The NCIIA Review and Notification Process | If Your Proposal is Approved

 
Introduction

Course and Program grants are awarded to colleges and universities for the purpose of strengthening existing curricular programs and/or building new programs in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Through these grant funds, NCIIA supports creative pedagogical approaches that generate student teams (E-Teams*) working on technology solutions to solve real-world problems.

*What’s an E-Team?
NCIIA defines an E-Team as a multidisciplinary group of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to bring a technology-based invention (product or service) to market. The "E" stands for entrepreneurship.

Note: If you have a proposal for a course and/or program that focuses on the development and dissemination of technology-based inventions and innovations for the benefit of people living in poverty, you should consider applying for a Sustainable Vision grant instead of a Course and Program grant. Learn more about the Sustainable Vision grants program here.  

Please note that applicants may not submit both a Sustainable Vision proposal and a Course and Program proposal for the same idea during the same grant cycle.

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Who May Apply

NCIIA grant funds are awarded to US-based colleges and universities. Faculty and staff from NCIIA member colleges and universities may apply for a Course and Program grant.

If you have questions about the status of your institution's NCIIA membership, please contact us.
 

Selection Criteria

The more SPECIFIC, CLEAR and COMPELLING your proposal is, the more competitive your proposal will be. Typically, proposals have a 16-25% chance of getting funded. 

Course and Program grants are awarded to NCIIA member institutions for the purpose of strengthening existing curricular programs or building new programs in technology-based invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Proposals may request support for a single course, a course sequence, a certificate program, a minor or major, extracurricular programs or a combination of these. Successful Course and Program grant proposals include these elements:
  • The formation of (preferably multidisciplinary) student teams focused on technology invention, innovation and entrepreneurship with a positive social/environmental impact.
  • A focus on entrepreneurship and support for promising student teams (connections to people and resources on campus and beyond to support commercialization) who want to continue to develop their technology and business model after participation in the proposed course/program.
  • A plan for continuation (and financial sustainability) of the course or program post NCIIA funding.
  • Experiential learning by doing and creative pedagogical approaches to solving real world problems. 
NCIIA encourages proposals that involve students and advisors from engineering, science, business, design, and liberal arts disciplines, as well as groups traditionally underrepresented in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including women and minorities. 

What will NOT be funded?
Here are some examples of projects that are NOT strong candidates for Course and Program grant funding:

  • Pure research projects.
  • Courses or programs that are unlikely to continue beyond the grant period.
  • Existing programs where there is little change or improvement proposed.
  • Courses and/or programs without a focus on technology innovation and/or entrepreneurship.
  • Courses or programs that do not lead to the creation of student E-Teams.
  • Proposals that do not demonstrate that the most promising student teams and technologies will be supported beyond the classroom.

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Institutional Support

NCIIA requires evidence of support from your college or university, which we believe is critical to the success of your course or program. The following institutional representatives must verify their support (online) of your proposal by responding to an automated email request from the online proposal prior to final submission. They need to virtually “sign off” by responding to the email generated within the online proposal process and enter their initials.

Applicants should contact their Office of Sponsored Programs/Research or the equivalent well ahead (2+ weeks) of the grant deadline to inform them they want to submit a proposal. Many colleges and universities require a full proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted to NCIIA.
 
Principal Investigator (PI)
The Principal Investigator 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 Principal Investigator. Co-PIs are allowed but 1 lead PI must be identified. Students may not serve as Principal Investigators.
 
Administrative Contact (AC)
The NCIIA defines the Administrative Contact as a grants administrator or fiscal officer authorized to commit the institution to the terms of the grant. Often, the AC is someone in your institution's Office of Sponsored Programs/Research or an administrator able to manage grant funding within a department or school. Principal Investigators, other faculty, and students may not serve as the AC.
 
Note: NCIIA strongly encourages that you contact your Office of Sponsored Programs/Research or the equivalent well ahead (2+ weeks) of the submission deadline to inform them of your intention to submit a proposal. Many colleges and universities require a full proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted.
 
Department Chair (DC)
The Department Chair (or equivalent) will need to indicate his/her awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposed program or project.
 
Dean of Faculty (DF)
The Dean of Faculty (or equivalent) will need to indicate his/her awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposed program or project.

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Intellectual Property Policies

The NCIIA supports courses and/or programs that lead to the creation of E-Teams as they work toward commercialization of their inventions. Ownership of discoveries or inventions resulting from activities financed by NCIIA grant funds will be governed by grantee institutions’ intellectual property policies. If a school does not have an intellectual property policy, then the institution must develop an E-Team agreement that establishes ownership of ideas resulting from E-Team work. The NCIIA takes no financial or ownership interest in the projects funded by these grants.

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How to Apply

All program applications must be submitted online. Anyone on the team may serve as the applicant. ALL proposal deadlines end at 11:59pm eastern time on the specified due date unless otherwise indicated.

To start, you’ll need to have an NCIIA account. Creating an account is easy, and anyone can do it. To access an existing account or to create a new one, click here. You may start, save, stop, and return to your online proposal at anytime before submitting.
 
You may preview a PDF of the online application here. This PDF includes screen shots of NCIIA's five-step proposal process. This PDF is for preview purposes only.

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The Proposal: Required and Optional Components

As part of the online application process, you will be prompted to upload the following into your proposal:

Details on each component are provided below.

Required Proposal Components
The following documents are required as part of your proposal and must be included in the following order, combined together into a single PDF:
  1. Proposal narrative
  2. Proposed budget (in the NCIIA template, which should be downloaded here or directly from the online proposal application)
  3. Letter(s) of support (at least 1 required, maximum of 3 accepted)
  4. Team member resumes (4 resumes maximum, each limited to 3 pages per resume)

1) REQUIRED: Proposal Narrative
Your proposal narrative may not exceed 5 pages in length using 12-point Times font and 1-inch margins. Again, the more SPECIFIC, CLEAR, and COMPELLING your narrative is, the more competitive your proposal will be. We recommend that the following information is included in your narrative. 

Proposed course and/or program description
  • What are you proposing? Be specific in the first paragraph; for example, is it a course or a program?  Is it new or an expansion of existing courses/programs? Is it is a certificate program, a major or minor, or an extracurricular opportunity or a combination? It is important to differentiate between program elements that exist and anything new that you are proposing. If you choose, you may use a chart or a map identifying what exists vs. the new elements you are proposing in the appendix.
  • What is the technology invention/innovation area of focus?
  • How will the proposed course or program lead to the creation of student E-Teams? Will resulting teams be multidisciplinary (encouraged but not required)?
  • Explain the process: how will teams be formed, how many (approximately) per year, where will the ideas come from (students/faculty, university research, a combination, etc.), and how will any resulting IP be handled?
  • Is there an experiential learning opportunity for students?
  • Is there potential for educational, social and/or environmental impact?
History and context
  • What gap(s) are you addressing on your campus; what do you feel is missing?
  • Provide a 1-2 paragraph background of how the program or project began and what has been accomplished so far (if anything).
  • What institutional and financial support have you received for your work?
Team and partners
  • Describe the role of each key individual involved with delivering and supporting the proposed course and/or program. Keep each description to 1-2 sentences. 
  • Have you identified partners on campus or beyond who will help promising teams commercialize any resulting technologies? Describe the "entrepreneurial ecosystem" on your campus and in your community that teams can access* (other faculty members, departments, entrepreneurship centers, incubators, accelerators, mentors etc.). 
*Note: Proposals should go beyond listing entrepreneurial support resources and demonstrate that a structured path is available for some teams to further develop a path to market. 
 
Work plan and outcomes: create a table in the narrative
  • What are the milestones that you hope to achieve during the grant period? 
  • How many E-Teams will be formed/supported each year? How many students?
Beyond the grant 
  • How will you evaluate your course/program beyond student evaluations?
  • Will the course or program continue beyond the end of the grant period? If so, how do you anticipate that it will be funded? Is your program replicable?

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2. REQUIRED: Proposed Budget
Your budget demonstrates to reviewers how you intend to achieve the objectives proposed in your 5-page narrative. NCIIA requires you to use the provided Course and Program budget template which you can download here

Justify your proposed budget
Including specific budget justifications is a critical piece in helping reviewers understand how you intend to spend grant funds. Provide your justifications in the "justifications" section in the budget template or in a separate sheet; the more detail in the justifications the better.
 
Grant funds may be proposed for expenses related to curricular development and course or program realization. Equipment and other resources purchased with grant funds become the property of the institution.

Note: Course and Program grant funds cannot cover institutional overhead but can provide personnel costs of up to $5,000; the $5,000 maximum includes any applicable cost of fringe benefits.

Eligible expenses examples:

  • Equipment expenses (NCIIA will typically not fund the purchase of equipment that is considered part of college or university infrastructure. Equipment expenses should be less than 1/3 the total proposed budget).
  • Personnel costs up to $5,000 (may be divided or proposed for 1 person, and includes the cost of any applicable fringe benefits).
  • Expenses related to early implementation of program, including materials & supplies, prototyping, technical services, and testing.
  • Travel.
  • Expenses related to students’ performing patent searches or creating marketing analyses, or business plans.
 

Ineligible expenses examples:

  • Overhead: NCIIA does not cover institutional overhead.
  • Personnel costs over the $5,000 maximum.
  • Equipment expenses totaling more than 1/3 the total proposed budget.
  • Speaker honoraria over $200.
  • Wages for students during the academic year.
  • Legal and other expenses of business formation or operation.
  • Publicity expenses.

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3. REQUIRED: Letter(s) of Support
Letters of support should demonstrate to reviewers that there is ongoing institutional support for your project and/or technical competence and market opportunity in the proposed work. Letters can also serve to verify partnerships discussed in your proposal narrative or verify additional funding to complement the proposed budget. At least 1 letter is required, up to 3 will be accepted. 

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4. REQUIRED: Resumes
Include resumes from the Principal Investigator and any other key collaborators. We do not need resumes for the Administrative Contact or non-key team members/collaborators. Up to 4 resumes are allowed and they should be no more than 3 pages each.

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Optional: Additional Appendices
Up to 5 additional (optional) supporting documents may be combined into 1 PDF file and uploaded as an appendix item. Relevant supporting materials including curricula, photographs, and syllabi are welcome. 

Note: Sheer volume of material is not an asset. Reviewers are directed to use supporting materials only to supplement the 5-page narrative. Therefore, key information should be included in the narrative.
 
Optional: Weblinks and/or Videos
In addition to supporting documents, applicants may upload up to 4 links to websites, online articles, videos and/or other relevant online data that will inform and provide context for the proposed program.  

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The NCIIA Review and Notification Process

  • Submitted proposals are screened internally and reviewed by external panels of reviewers made up of individuals from academia, industry, nonprofits, and content experts from the US and around the world.
  • NCIIA strives to notify applicants of the status of their proposals via email within 90 days of the submission deadline.  In some cases, NCIIA may ask for additional information and/or clarification after the proposal has been submitted.
  • All applicants and PIs will receive notification via email as to whether or not their proposal has been selected for funding. If your proposal is not accepted, detailed reviewer comments are not shared in writing but applicants may schedule a call with NCIIA to receive a verbal summary of reviewer feedback.
  • Occasionally, reviewers invite a team to resubmit their proposal in a future cycle for re-consideration, after certain concerns or questions are addressed. Applicants invited by reviewers to resubmit should contact NCIIA 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. Resubmissions should clearly mark a section of the narrative "Addressing Previous Reviewer Concerns."

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If Your Proposal is Approved

  • Funds are awarded to US-based colleges and universities.
  • The Principal Investigator will receive a notification letter and approved budget via email.
  • NCIIA will send an award letter agreement for signature to the Administrative Contact identified in the proposal. Once this award letter is signed and returned to NCIIA, funds can be disbursed.

Reporting for Grantees
Reporting requirements will be outlined in the award letter. Principal Investigators for NCIIA grants are prompted via email (usually once each year) to complete reports online. Failure to submit reports may jeopardize your institution’s eligibility for future grants and pending payments. If you receive a grant, reporting deadlines will be detailed in your award letter. Click here to preview sample interim and final reports. 

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Congratulations, you read the guidelines! If you are still unsure about whether your idea is a fit, email a 1 paragraph abstract for feedback to facultygrants@nciia.org or call the grants team at (413) 587-2172.

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NCIIA Course and Program Grants

Course and Program grants strengthen existing curricular programs and/or build new courses and programs in invention, innovation, and technology entrepreneurship. Read about recent grantees.

Upcoming submission deadlines: May 9, 2014 and November 7, 2014

Program guidelines

Read the guidelines before you apply!

Program overview
Course and Program grants are awarded to NCIIA member institutions for the purpose of strengthening existing curricular programs or building new programs in technology-based invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Proposals may request support for a single course, a course sequence, a certificate program, a minor or major, extracurricular programs or a combination of these. Successful proposals include the following elements:

  • The formation of student teams (E-Teams*) focused on technology invention, innovation and entrepreneurship with a positive social/environmental impact.
  • A focus on entrepreneurship and support for promising student teams who want to continue to develop their technologies and business models after participation in the proposed course/program.
  • A plan for continuation (and financial sustainability) of the course or program post-NCIIA-funding.
  • An emphasis on experiential learning-by-doing and creative pedagogical approaches to solving real world problems. 

NCIIA encourages proposals that involve students and advisors from engineering, science, business, design, and liberal arts disciplines, as well as groups traditionally underrepresented in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including women and minorities. 

Note: If you are proposing a course and/or program which focuses on the development and deployment of technology-based inventions and innovations for the benefit of people living in poverty in the US and/or abroad, you should submit a Sustainable Vision proposal instead of a Course and Program proposal. Learn more about the Sustainable Vision grants program here. Applicants may not submit both a Course and Program proposal and a Sustainable Vision proposal for the same idea during the same grant cycle.

How to apply

Click here to apply. Detailed instructions and information about the application process can be found in the program guidelines.

You may preview a PDF of the online application here.

This PDF includes screen shots of NCIIA's five-step proposal process. The proposal content shown may vary slightly from the Sustainable Vision grant proposal, but steps for the application are the same. This PDF is for preview purposes only.

Is Your Idea a Fit?

Have an idea but not sure whether it's a fit with the program guidelines?

Email us

You may send a 1-2 paragraph summary to facultygrants@nciia.org. We are glad to review your brief summary on a first-come basis and provide you with feedback. Please note that due to high volume, we are unable to guarantee replies to inquiries made less than two weeks prior to the proposal deadline.

 

*What's an E-Team?
NCIIA defines an E-Team as a multidisciplinary group of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to bring a technology-based invention (product or service) to market. The "E" stands for entrepreneurship. 

Sustainable Vision Program Guidelines

Sustainable Vision Grant Guidelines – Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the entire guidelines prior to submitting.

IntroductionWho May Apply | Selection Criteria | Eligible Areas of Focus | Institutional Support | Intellectual Property Policies | How to Apply | The Proposal: Required and Optional Components | The Review and Notification Process | If Your Proposal is Approved

Introduction

Sustainable Vision grants fund educational programs in which student teams create and commercialize technologies that benefit people living in poverty.

Since 2006, over 60 Sustainable Vision grants have been awarded to NCIIA member / US universities to innovate, commercialize, and distribute technologies in the US and 30+ countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Grantees have access to funding and a network of peers and development & entrepreneurship experts. Programs must address poverty alleviation and basic human needs and may focus on opportunities and needs in the US or abroad. Funds may be requested to support the creation of new programs or for the improvement and/or significant expansion of an ongoing program.

Sustainable Vision grants range in size from $2,000 to $50,000; the grant period is 1 to 3 years.

Note: If you have a proposal for an educational course or program that does not focus on developing technologies specifically for people living in poverty, we encourage you to apply for a Course and Program grant

Please note that applicants may not submit both a Sustainable Vision proposal and a Course and Program proposal for the same idea.

If you are part of a team focused on the development and deployment of a specific technology-based solution to poverty alleviation (not an educational program), we encourage you to apply for NCIIA’s E-Team Program

Who May Apply 

Faculty and staff from NCIIA member colleges and universities may apply; collaboration with individuals from education, non-profits and NGOs, government and industry is encouraged; however, Sustainable Vision proposals must be submitted by a US college or university as the lead institution.
NCIIA grant funds are awarded to US-based colleges and universities and can then be disbursed to partners (other universities, NGOs, etc.) in the US and abroad.
If you have questions about the status of your institution's NCIIA membership, please contact us.

Selection Criteria 

The more SPECIFIC, CLEAR and COMPELLING your proposal is, the more competitive your proposal will be. Typically, proposals have a 15-20% chance of getting funded. Proposals may request support for a single course, a course sequence, a certificate program, a minor or major, extracurricular programs or a combination of these. NCIIA encourages proposals that involve students and advisors from engineering, science, business, design, and liberal arts disciplines, as well as groups traditionally underrepresented in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including women and minorities.

Successful Sustainable Vision grant proposals include these elements:

  • New or expanded university courses, certificate programs, minors, majors, and/or extracurricular programs with a focus on technology invention and innovation to address poverty alleviation and basic human needs.
  • The formation of multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial student E-Teams* to develop technology-based solutions to critical national and global problems.
  • A focus on entrepreneurship and support for promising student teams (connections to people and resources on campus and beyond to support commercialization) who want to continue to develop their technology and business model after participation in the proposed course/program.
  • A plan for continuation (and financial sustainability) of the course or program post NCIIA funding.
  • Experiential learning by doing and creative pedagogical approaches to solving real world problems. 

*What’s an E-Team?
NCIIA defines an E-Team as a multidisciplinary group of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to bring a technology-based invention (product or service) to market. The "E" stands for entrepreneurship.

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Eligible Areas of Focus

Sustainable Vision grants fund programs dedicated to the development of technology inventions and innovations in areas such as: energy, health (medical devices, sanitation, etc.), clean air and water, nutrition and agriculture, IT and shelter. Other compelling applications beyond those listed above that meet the Sustainable Vision program criteria will also be considered.

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Institutional Support

The following institutional representatives must verify their support of your proposal by responding to an automated email request from the grants system (triggered within the online proposal process) prior to final submission.   

Principal Investigator (PI)
The Principal Investigator 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 Principal Investigator. Co-PIs are allowed but 1 lead PI must be identified. Students cannot serve as Principal Investigators. 

Administrative Contact (AC)
The NCIIA defines the Administrative Contact as a grants administrator or fiscal officer authorized to commit the institution to the terms of the grant. Often, the AC is someone in your institution's Office of Sponsored Research or an administrator able to manage grant funding within a department or school. Neither the Principal Investigator nor students may serve as the AC.

Note: NCIIA strongly encourages that you contact your Office of Sponsored Programs/Research or the equivalent well ahead (2+ weeks) of the submission deadline to inform them of your intention to submit a proposal. Many colleges and universities require a full proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted.

Department Chair (DC)
The Department Chair (or equivalent) will need to indicate his/her awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposed program or project.

Dean of Faculty (DF)
The Dean of Faculty (or equivalent) will need to indicate his/her awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposed program or project.

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Intellectual Property Policies

The NCIIA supports programs that lead to the creation of E-Teams as they work toward commercialization of their inventions. Ownership of discoveries or inventions resulting from activities financed by NCIIA grant funds will be governed by grantee institutions’ intellectual property policies. If a school does not have an intellectual property policy, then the institution must develop an E-Team agreement that establishes ownership of ideas resulting from E-Team work. The NCIIA takes no financial or ownership interest in the projects funded by these grants.

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How to Apply

All program applications must be submitted online. Anyone on the team may serve as the applicant on a submission. ALL proposal deadlines end at 11:59 pm eastern time on the specified due date unless otherwise indicated.

To start, you’ll need to have an NCIIA account.  Creating an account is easy, and anyone can do it. To access an existing account or to create a new one, click here. You may start, save, stop, and return to your online proposal at anytime before submitting.

You may preview a PDF of the online application here.

PLEASE NOTE: this PDF includes screen shots of NCIIA's 5-step proposal process. The proposal content shown may vary slightly from the Sustainable Vision grant proposal, but steps for the application are the same. This PDF is for preview purposes only.

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The Proposal: Required and Optional Components

As part of the online application process, you will be prompted to upload the following into your proposal:

  • Required proposal components combined together in a single PDF (includes the proposal narrative, proposed budget, letter(s) of support, and key team member resumes).
  • Additional appendices (optional) up to 5 appendices total, combined together in a single PDF.
  • Weblinks (optional) up to 4 links can be included (websites, video links, articles, etc.).
  • Details on each component are provided below in these guidelines.

Required proposal components
The following documents are required as part of your proposal and must be included in the following order, combined together into a single PDF:

  1. Proposal narrative
  2. Proposed budget (in the NCIIA template, which should be downloaded here or directly from the proposal application)
  3. Letter(s) of support (at least 1 is required, up to 3 will be accepted)
  4. Team member resumes (a maximum of 4 resumes, each limited to 3 pages per resume)

1) REQUIRED: Proposal Narrative
Your proposal narrative may not exceed 5 pages in length using 12-point Times font and 1-inch margins. Address the following in your narrative:

Proposed course and/or program description

  • What are you proposing to develop? Be specific: for example, is it a course or a program? Is it a certificate program, a major or minor, or an extracurricular opportunity? Please differentiate between program elements that exist and anything new that you are proposing.
  • What is the technology invention/innovation area of focus?
  • Is there an experiential component for students and approximately how many teams/students will be involved?
  • Will the proposed course or program lead to the creation of student E-Teams? Will resulting teams be multidisciplinary (encouraged but not required)?
  • Is there potential for positive educational, social, and/or environmental impacts?

History and context

  • What gap(s) are you addressing on your campus; what do you feel is missing?
  • Provide a 1-2 paragraph background of how the program or project began and what has been accomplished so far (if anything).
  • What institutional and financial support have you received for your work?

Team and partners

  • In 1-2 sentences (each), describe the role of the key individuals involved with delivering and supporting the proposed course and/or program.
  • Have you identified partners (individuals, community leaders, nonprofits or NGOs, etc.) outside of your institution who will provide connections and access to the field and end-users?
  • Have you identified partners who will help promising teams commercialize any resulting technologies? Describe the "entrepreneurial ecosystem" that your students will have access to on your campus and in the local community.
  • How will the team address possible language, cultural, and social barriers? Has the team traveled yet to the community in which you propose to work?
  • How many US-based students will be involved and what roles will they play? Is there a role for non-US based students (not required)?

Work plan and outcomes

  • What are the milestones you hope to achieve during the grant period? Present in a table format with a timeline.
  • How will E-Teams be formed and how many do you anticipate working with per year?

Beyond the grant

  • How will you evaluate your course/program beyond student evaluations?
  • How will your partners measure success, and how will you include your partners in the evaluation process?
  • Will the course or program continue beyond the end of the grant period? If so, how will it be funded? Is your program replicable?
  • If your program is international in focus and you have requested funds for travel abroad, how will these expenses be supported beyond the proposed grant period?

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2. REQUIRED: Proposed Budget
Your budget demonstrates to reviewers how you intend to achieve the objectives proposed in your 5-page narrative. NCIIA requires you to use the provided SV budget template which you can download here.

Justify your proposed budget
Including specific budget justifications is a critical piece in helping reviewers understand how you intend to spend grant funds. Provide your justifications in the "justifications" section in the budget template or in a separate sheet; the more detail in the justifications the better.
 
Grant funds may be proposed for expenses related to curricular development and course or program realization. Equipment and other resources purchased with grant funds become the property of the institution.

Note: Sustainable Vision grant funds cannot cover institutional overhead but can provide personnel costs of up to $10,000; the $10,000 maximum includes any applicable cost of fringe benefits.

Eligible expenses examples:

  • Equipment expenses (NCIIA will typically not fund the purchase of equipment that is considered part of college or university infrastructure. Equipment expenses should be less than 1/3 the total proposed budget).
  • Personnel costs up to $10,000 (may be divided or proposed for 1 person, and includes the cost of any applicable fringe benefits).
  • Expenses related to early implementation of program, including materials & supplies, prototyping, technical services, and testing.
  • Travel.
  • Expenses related to students’ performing patent searches or creating marketing analyses, or business plans.
 

Ineligible expenses examples:

  • Overhead: NCIIA does not cover institutional overhead.
  • Personnel costs over the $10,000 maximum.
  • Equipment expenses totaling more than 1/3 the total proposed budget.
  • Speaker honoraria over $200.
  • Wages for students during the academic year.
  • Student stipends over the $5,000 maximum.
  • Legal and other expenses of business formation or operation.
  • Publicity expenses.

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3. REQUIRED: Letter(s) of Support
Letters of support should demonstrate to reviewers that there is ongoing institutional support for your project and/or technical competence and market opportunity in the proposed work. Letters can also serve to verify partnerships discussed in your proposal narrative or verify additional funding to complement the proposed budget. At least 1 letter is required, up to 3 will be accepted.

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4. REQUIRED: Resumes
Include resumes from the Principal Investigator and any other key collaborators. We do not need resumes for the Administrative Contact or other non-key team members/collaborators. Up to 4 resumes are allowed and they should be no more than 3 pages each.

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Optional: Additional Appendices
Up to 5 additional (optional) supporting documents may be combined into 1 PDF file and uploaded as an appendix item. Relevant supporting materials including curricula, photographs, and syllabi are welcome.

Note: Sheer volume of material is not an asset. Reviewers are directed to use supporting materials only to supplement the 5-page narrative. Therefore, key information should be included in the narrative.

Optional: Weblinks and/or Videos
In addition to supporting documents, applicants may upload up to 4 links to websites, online articles, videos and other relevant online data that will inform and provide context for the proposed program.  

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The Review and Notification Process

  • Submitted proposals are reviewed by external panels of reviewers made up of individuals from academia, industry, non-profits, and NGOs and development experts from the US and around the world.
  • NCIIA strives to notify applicants of the status of their proposals via email within 90 days of the submission deadline. In some cases, NCIIA may ask for additional information and/or clarification after the proposal has been submitted.
  • All applicants and PIs will receive notification via email as to whether or not their proposal has been selected for funding. In most cases, proposals are either funded or rejected. If your proposal is rejected, detailed reviewer comments are not shared in writing but applicants may contact NCIIA if they are interested in hearing a summary of reviewer feedback.
  • Occasionally, reviewers invite a team to resubmit their proposal in a future cycle for re-consideration, after certain concerns or questions are addressed. Applicants invited by reviewers to resubmit should contact NCIIA 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. We strongly suggest teams resubmitting clearly mark a section of the narrative "Addressing Previous Reviewer Concerns."

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If Your Proposal is Approved

  • Funds are awarded to US-based colleges and universities.
  • The Principal Investigator will receive a notification letter and approved budget via email.
  • NCIIA will send an award letter agreement for signature to the Administrative Contact identified by the team. Once this award letter is signed and returned to NCIIA, funds can be disbursed.
  • Sustainable Vision grant recipients are required to participate in the NCIIA annual conference and pre-conference workshop (Sustainable Vision Connect). The gathering is an opportunity to share your work and discuss the dissemination of transferable models and materials. 

Reporting for Grantees
Reporting requirements will be outlined in the award letter. Principal Investigators for NCIIA grants are prompted via email (usually once each year) to complete reports online. Failure to submit reports may jeopardize your institution’s eligibility for future grants and pending payments. If you receive a grant, reporting deadlines will be detailed in your award letter. Click here to preview sample interim and final reports. 

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Congratulations, you read the guidelines! If you are still unsure about whether your idea is a fit, email a 1 paragraph abstract for feedback to facultygrants@nciia.org or call the grants team at (413) 587-2172.

Sustainable Vision Program

Sustainable Vision grants fund educational programs in which student teams create and commercialize technologies that benefit people living in poverty.

  • Up to $50,000
  • Grant period: one to three years
  • Who may apply: faculty from NCIIA member institutions

Upcoming submission deadline: November 7, 2014

Program guidelines

Read the guidelines before you apply!

Program overview

Since 2006, over 60 Sustainable Vision grants have been awarded to NCIIA member / US universities to innovate, commercialize, and distribute technologies in the US and 30+ countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Grantees have access to funding, venture development support, coaching and a network of advisors, entrepreneurs, faculty and students.

Note that the Sustainable Vision grants program focuses on supporting educational programs only. If you are part of a team focused on the development and deployment of a specific technology-based solution to poverty alleviation, you may be eligible to apply for NCIIA’s E-Team Program.

Selection Criteria

Successful proposals: 

  • create and improve new or existing university courses, certificate programs, minors, majors, and/or extracurricular programs with a focus on technology invention, innovation and entrepreneurship to address poverty alleviation and basic human needs.
  • result in the formation of multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial student E-Teams* to develop technology-focused inventions and innovations that address critical global problems.
  • establish a network of faculty and students who are working to solve problems with technology solutions and an entrepreneurial approach.

*What's an E-Team?
NCIIA defines an E-Team as a multidisciplinary group of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to bring a technology-based invention (product or service) to market. The "E" stands for entrepreneurship.

How to apply

Click here to apply. Detailed instructions and information about the application process can be found in the program guidelines.

You may preview a PDF of the online application here.

PLEASE NOTE: this PDF includes screen shots of NCIIA's five-step proposal process. This PDF is for preview purposes only.

Is Your Idea a Fit?

Have an idea but not sure whether it's a fit with the program guidelines?

Email us

You may send a 1-2 paragraph summary to facultygrants@nciia.org. We are glad to review your brief summary on a first-come basis and provide you with feedback. Please note that due to high volume, we are unable to guarantee replies to inquiries made less than two weeks prior to the proposal deadline.