February 2010

Scott Meyer

Scott Meyer is the co-founder of 9Clouds, Inc., based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 9Clouds is a social media marketing firm that connects small to mid-sized businesses to their customers with cutting-edge tools for online intelligence gathering, monitoring, strategy building, and engagement. With a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Transformation from the University of Tromso, Norway, he brings experience in cross-cultural communication and management to customers attempting to navigate a globally competitive environment.

Mick Jackowski

Mick Jackowski became Director of the Metro State Center for Innovation in August, 2007. In this role, he develops and manages new curriculum and programs and oversees fundraising for the center. During his tenure, Jackowski created: Center's Minor and Certificate programs; eight new entrepreneurship courses; e-coaching virtual mentorship; collaborations with area high school and youth business organizations; collegiate entrepreneurs organization (student club); Innovation Challenge business plan and idea competitions; Entrepreneur of the Year awards; Innovation Day (on-campus entrepreneurship celebration); and Innovation Loan Fund (micro-lending). As an Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing, he collaborated with the Department of Industrial Design to transform a series of courses into Brand Spankin New, the first student-centered contemporary furnishing business in the world.

Robert Beaury

Robert (Bob) Beaury has been an instructor in the Engineering Entrepreneurship (E-SHIP) Minor at Penn State/Univ. Park for nine years, teaching two of the four core courses in the minor each semester. Outside the classroom, Bob has been directly involved in the development of more than 100 new products and the creation of their market introduction programs. His expertise includes building start-up companies and the practical implementation of innovation, product development and sales and marketing programs for cost-conscious, results-oriented organizations.

Open 2010, March 25-26, San Francisco


Open, the NCIIA's 2010 Conference, is seven weeks away!

Register now for great rates!

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Open 2010 will be our biggest and best conference yet, with 70 presentations, the new Spirit of Silicon Valley tour, annual March Madness for the Mind showcase,  keynote speaker Doug Richard, and much more. You don't want to miss Open 2010!

Marc Weiser

Marc Weiser is a founder and Managing Director of RPM Ventures. At RPM, he is involved with the boards of BountyJobs, OpenLane, RiverGlass, TetraVitae, QuantumLearning Technologies, and Xtime. He was previously involved with the boards of Entegrity Solutions, R4 Global Services, Applimation, and QuantumShift. Mr. Weiser has significant entrepreneurial experience in the technology industry as a founder of web-based telecommunications management and services firm QuantumShift, a venture-backed company that raised more than $140 million. At QuantumShift, he was the executive in charge of early technology and e-commerce systems development.

Tony Grover

Tony Grover is managing director of RPM Ventures, a seed and early stage venture capital firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded in May of 2000, RPM has built a reputation as an early stage venture capital firm with a unique investing strategy and core platform that enables it to provide exceptional deal flow and high value-add. The firm has also developed a strong reputation as a trusted investing partner to several West Coast firms. He brings to RPM over fifteen years of private equity, operating, and technical knowledge and experience spanning a wide array of industries and corporate settings.

BMEStart guidelines

Welcome to the BMEStart competition guidelines! applicants are strongly encouraged to read the entire guidelines prior to submitting

General InformationRules for Participation | How are Entries Evaluated? | Intellectual Property Policies | Required Advisors | How to Apply | Preparing your Application | Application Review Process and Notification | Apply Now!


General information

Since 2010, the BMEStart competition has recognized the finest in undergraduate biomedical engineering innovation. Strong BMEStart submissions define a problem to be solved and demonstrate the development of a device, product, or technology designed to solve it Examples include but are not limited to: surgical devices, home health care devices, diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative applications, rehabilitative and assistive technologies, or other innovations that will have a substantial impact on clinical care and patient outcomes.

The BMEStart competition is open to undergraduate students only (for mixed student teams, see the BMEidea competition). Students enrolled in senior biomedical engineering capstone design courses are especially encouraged to apply to BMEStart. Multidisciplinary teams are also encouraged to apply and may include undergraduate students from diverse fields such as business, nursing, physical therapy, life sciences, physical sciences, or other related disciplines. Inter-institutional collaborations are also encouraged; in these cases we require a faculty advisor from each institution. Each team must include at least one engineering student.

The deadline for submission each year is your applying team's senior capstone design course final exam date. If you are not enrolled in a senior design course, use your institution's final day of exams as your deadline. 2014 competition applications will be accepted until May 23, 2014.

BMEStart awards are presented at the BMES meeting each year. Competition winners will receive cash awards ($10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third place), as well as access to resources to be used for further development and commercialization of their products. They will also have the opportunity to present their designs and business plans to representatives of investor organizations. Cash prizes will be disbursed to each of the winning team's departments to be allocated at the discretion of the faculty advisor.

Team members have rights to all intellectual property, subject to the rules of their home institutions, unless assigned to others in exchange for support, sponsorship, or funding. Teams will be encouraged to retain a significant and motivating interest in their project results.

Competition entry take place online via NCIIA’s applicant portal. There is a limit of 3 entries per academic institution; it is up to each department to coordinate which entries are submitted.  If more than 3 entries are received, NCIIA will accept the first 3 submitted.

The BMEStart competition is sponsored by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) with support from The Lemelson Foundation, in partnership with IEEE EMBS, the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and the Council of Chairs of Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering Programs.

PLEASE NOTE: A faculty advisor must verify his/her support of this competition entry. Applicants will be prompted to verify the support of a faculty advisor in Step 3 of this online competition application tool. Please allow several days for the faculty advisor to respond. The application CANNOT be submitted without his/her support.

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Rules for participation

  1. The BMEStart competition is open to all undergraduate student teams at colleges and universities. Teams that include graduate students are not eligible for the BMEStart competition, but should consider applying for NCIIA's BMEidea competition.
  2. Eligible teams must include at least one engineering student.
  3. Submissions should solve a clinical problem; feature a novel and practical solution; include a description of potential intellectual property and how it could be protected; and show market potential.
  4. The narrative may not exceed ten (10) pages (double-spaced, 12 point font) in total. See the "how to apply" section below for details on the narrative and other required application components.
  5. No more than five (5) optional appendices may be submitted.
  6. NCIIA declares no rights to intellectual property. Team members will have the rights to all intellectual property, subject to the rules of their home institutions, unless assigned to others in exchange for support, sponsorship, or funding. Participants will be expected to have taken appropriate steps to protect the intellectual property disclosed in submissions.

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How are entries evaluated?

Strong BMEStart submissions will demonstrate a mastery of analytical and design skills and capabilities; the ability to manage the product development process; the ability to work effectively in teams; and written technical communication skills. Submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Originality and patentability
  2. Technical feasibility
  3. Clinical utility
  4. Endorsement from advisors and/or industry collaborators
  5. Economic feasibility
  6. Market potential

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Intellectual Property policies

The NCIIA supports teams as they work toward commercialization of their inventions. Ownership of discoveries or inventions resulting from activities financed by NCIIA grant and/or competition prize 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 agreement that establishes ownership of ideas resulting from student team work. The NCIIA takes no financial or ownership interest in the projects recognized by these competitions.

Please read and understand your institution’s Intellectual Property policy before submitting an application.

Submitting an entry to this competition for recognition of innovative design will necessitate public announcement of project summary, photos and/or videos for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, as well as any honorable mentions. Teams are advised to address intellectual property filings prior to submission and will be given one week from notification of award before the public announcement will be made.

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Required advisors

Your Department Chair and your Faculty Advisor must verify their support of your competition application (verification for Faculty Advisor is waived if she or he is also the applicant).

Faculty Advisor (FA)

The Faculty advisor is the faculty/staff member taking primary responsibility for the project at the institution. Students cannot serve as Faculty Advisors. Should your competition entry be selected as a winner, cash prizes will be disbursed to your team's department to be allocated at the discretion of your faculty advisor.

Department Chair (DC)

The Department Chair oversees the lead project department (usually the Faculty Advisor’s department). This person may be Chair or your institution’s equivalent (provost, etc.) Verification of support from this person demonstrates a level of institutional commitment for your project.

To ensure timely approval of your application by your institution, NCIIA recommends notifying your advisors of your intention to submit a competition entry 3-4 weeks in advance of the deadline, and share your application with them prior to submission.

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How to apply

All applications must be submitted online. Anyone on the team may serve as the applicant on a submission. ALL deadlines end at 11:59pm eastern time 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 the online application here. 
PLEASE NOTE: this PDF includes screen shots of NCIIA's five-step proposal process. The proposal shown is an Advanced E-Team grant proposal, but steps for the BMEStart application are the same. This PDF is for preview purposes only.

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Preparing your application: required and optional components

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

  • Required application components combined together in a single PDF (title page, narrative, letter of support, and key team member resumes). We strongly encourage the following naming convention for this PDF: "TeamName_University_BMEStart" (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue)
  • Optional additional supporting documents combined together in a single PDF (up to 5 total). We strongly encourage the following naming convention for this PDF: "TeamName_University_BMEStartAppendices" (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue)
  • Optional videos and/or weblinks up to 4 links can be included (websites, video links, articles, etc.). A video is strongly encouraged (see below for details)

Details on each component are provided below in these guidelines.

Required components

The following documents are required as part of your BMEStart application and must be included in the following order, combined together in a single PDF:

  1. Title page
  2. Narrative (no more than 10 pages)
  3. Letter of support
  4. Key team member resumes (limit of 3 pages per resume)

Required title page and narrative description guidelines

Please create a title page with the following information. Your title page is NOT included in the 10 page limit for your narrative.

  • Name of team/name of venture
  • University
  • Listing of student team members including name, degree sought, and year of expected graduation for each person

The narrative may not exceed 10 pages in length (double-spaced, 12 point font). Please include any images referenced in your narrative in the body of the narrative, NOT as appendices. Please prepare a narrative description that includes the following:

  • Executive summary (2 pages). An outline of the strategy for commercialization and opportunity statement. See below for additional details.
  • Description of the problem to be solved (no more than 1/2 page). What is the problem you have solved? What are the market and/or industry needs that you intend to address?
  • Project objective statement (no more than 1/2 page). How does your team intend to address the problem? How does your final design solve the problem?
  • Documentation of the final design (1 page). Be sure to include applicable standards and a risk analysis.
  • Prototype of the final design (1 page). Paste graphical representations and photographs in the document and, if available, provide a link to a video. Note: If the current team was not involved from the beginning, please specify what your team has worked on vs. what progress had been made by others (other students, or others) prior to your involvement.
  • Proof that the design is functional and will solve the problem (1 page). Include evidence such as test data, market research or pre-clinical/clinical trials.
  • Results of a patent search and/or search for prior art, assessment and patentability (1 page). Two excellent resources for this search are www.uspto.gov, and your institution's technology transfer office. Regarding marketplace competition, what is currently being used to solve the problem and/or what are the anticipated alternate methods that could be in competition with you in the future?
  • Anticipated regulatory pathway (510(k) vs. PMA, etc.) (1/2 page). Consider researching how the FDA has treated analogous devices.
  • Reimbursement (1/2 page). Do you expect your device to be reimbursable by Medicare/Medicaid? Why or why not?
  • Estimated manufacturing costs (1 page). Provide detailed per unit cost breakdown, including volume discount, for components, final assembly, quality assurance, etc.
  • Potential market and impact (1 page). Define the potential market size, selling price, and distribution channels. Who would your customers be (i.e., who will be purchasing the product) and who would the end users be (i.e., who would be using the product). If possible, quantify the number of potential users and the potential impact the product could have (# of people who would benefit from use, etc.)

**What's in an Executive Summary?

An executive summary summarizes all of the above and serves as a stand-alone justification for why this idea should be pursued. Be sure to address the essentials, including:

  • Problem: What is the problem you aim to solve?
  • Solution: How do you solve it?
  • Competition: What are alternate methods of solving the problem or anticipated methods that could be in competition with you in the future?
  • Differentiation: Why will people choose your solution over others?
  • Technical Feasibility: Have you done it and can it be done?
  • Regulatory and Reimbursement: What FDA approvals will be required? What Medicare/Medicaid strategy is needed?
  • Sales and Marketing: What is the estimated size of the market (with rationale)? Who is the buyer/customer/user? Who will they buy it from? At what pricing?

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Required letter of support

A letter of support demonstrating that your project is undergraduate student-led is required. If your project or venture is a continuation of work started by other students and/or faculty before you, the letter should describe the proportion of the design in which your current team has been involved. The letter can be from a faculty advisor, mentor, or industry partner.

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Required key team member resumes

Resumes should be no more than 3 pages each, and are only required for key team members.

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Optional components

Optional additional supporting documents (appendices)

Up to five additional appendices may be included in your proposal and must be uploaded as one merged PDF. Appendices may include but are not limited to:

  1. Additional letter(s) of support: one letter of support is required (see above), but additional letter(s) of support are also welcome. Effective letters of support will demonstrate the strength of the team and/or the quality of the work accomplished. They can be from industry mentors and/or faculty advisors or others who have worked with the team as applicable.
  2. Images demonstrating design and/or technical feasibility (drawings, photographs, etc.)
  3. A summary of prior art
  4. Literature review
  5. Any data collected as part of testing your technology
  6. Any other relevant supporting materials

Note: Sheer volume of material is not an asset. Reviewers are directed to use supporting materials only to supplement the 10-page narrative. Therefore, key information should included in the narrative.

Optional videos and/or weblinks

Recommended video
Teams are encouraged to submit a brief video (up to 2 minutes) about your innovation. We recommend that the video focus on the technical feasibility of your device. Demonstrate that the prototype works or otherwise describe the function of the device and make a compelling case that it's innovative and will have a significant impact.

Video links (via YouTube or a similar web-accessible site) should be uploaded into the proposal. NCIIA reserves the right to use submitted videos for public promotional purposes (on its website, in promotions for future BMEidea competitions). Videos should not contain proprietary information about the innovation. It is the team's responsibility to ensure the video is appropriate for public use.

Optional weblinks

Teams may upload up to four weblinks, which may include online articles, videos and/or other relevant online data.

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Proposal review process and notification

  • Submitted applications are reviewed by external panels of reviewers made up of individuals from academia, industry, nonprofits & NGOs, and venture capital with experience in the technology areas and in the commercialization of early stage innovations.
  • NCIIA notifies applicants of the status of their submissions via email within 90 days of the submission deadline. 

Congratulations… you read the guidelines!

If you have any questions, please contact us at grants@nciia.org or call at 413-587-2172.

Timothy M. Stearns

Timothy M. Stearns is the holder of the Coleman Foundation Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies and Director of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at California State University, Fresno. He has served on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal, and currently services on the editorial boards of the Journal of Business Research and the Journal of Small Business Management. Professor Stearns has co-authored a textbook on management and is the author of more than fifty research articles and presentations. He has taught and lectured on entrepreneurship and innovation to students and executives in Thailand, Poland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Macau, and the Peoples Republic of China. He is co-founder of N2TEC Institute; a managing partner of San Joaquin Venture Partners, a venture capital firm; and an advisor to Bridge Ventures, a venture capital firm that partners with universities and colleges.

Mary Besterfield-Sacre

Mary Besterfield-Sacre is Associate Professor and Fulton C. Noss Faculty Fellow in the Department of Industrial Engineering. Dr. Sacre's principal research interests are in engineering education assessment and evaluation methods. In the area of assessment and evaluation, Dr. Sacre has written numerous conference and journal papers and has given many workshops and presentations. Her research in this area has been funded by the NSF, Department of Education, Sloan Foundation, Engineering Information Foundation, and the NCIIA. She has served as an associate editor for the Journal of Engineering Education and is currently associate editor for the Applications in Engineering Education Journal. Additionally, she co-authored the book Total Quality Management, 3rd Edition (Prentice Hall). Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Sacre worked as an industrial engineer with ALCOA and with the U.S. Army Human Engineering Laboratory. She received her B.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla, her M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

Kai Qian

Kai Qian is a computer science professor at Southern Polytechnic State University. He got his Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from the University of Nebraska in 1990. He is currently a Collaborative Research Principle Investigator of NSF CCLI funded project #0837275 (2009-2011) working on the APOGEE system (Automatic PrOject Grading and instant fEEdback system for Web programming) to facilitate student programming assignment submission and grading. His research areas include advanced instructional technology, distributed computing, pattern recognition, and image processing. He has published many papers in IEEE and ACM conferences and professional journals. He has also authored textbooks with Wiley, Springer, and Jones and Bartlett publishing.