NOTE: Please read through the program guidelines carefully as they have changed.
The E-Team Program is an integrated program of funding, training, coaching, and investment. These guidelines describe the program's stages, rules, and how to apply.
Program mission: To increase the success, impact, and scale of the commercial outcomes of E-Teams.
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.
E-Teams may form as a result of a course, extracurricular program, or the independent initiative of students and faculty. There must be a minimum of 2 active undergraduate or graduate students on an E-Team. If members of an E-Team come from different universities, at least 1 of these schools must be a member of the NCIIA and administer the grant.
Program at a glance:
E-Teams selected to participate in the E-Team Program will have the opportunity to secure up to $75,000 in funding, attend 2 required workshops (Stage 1 and Stage 2), and receive coaching from NCIIA. In the final stage of the program, a small number of qualifying teams will be selected to participate in VentureWell and have the opportunity to receive investment funding from NCIIA and our partners.
Stage 1: $5,000 + workshop
Stage 2: up to $20,000 + workshop + coaching + network
Stage 3: VentureWell program, with $50,000 investment opportunity
To enter the E-Team Program, all teams must apply first for Stage 1. In rare cases, reviewers may fast-track eligible teams directly to Stage 2.
Support the development of technology-based inventions and innovations that will lead to positive social and/or environmental impact in the US and/or globally.
Assist E-Teams with developing a business model that will help get ideas out of the lab and classroom and into the market. NCIIA supports solutions that will scale in an entrepreneurial, economically self-sustaining way through the development of a product or service, in a for-profit, non-profit, licensing, or a partnership structure.
Provide opportunities for student inventors and innovators to learn by doing through working in multidisciplinary teams on real world problems with the potential for scalable impact.
This program is for US-based college or university E-Teams, not for individual inventors. 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.
Stong E-Team projects consist of multidisciplinary advisors, and mentors with relevant industry experience and connections, strong partnerships (required if you are working outside the US), and experiential learning opportunities. Graduate and/or undergraduate students should serve as the entrepreneurial leaders as part of a team, regardless of the origin of the idea or invention.
Minimum requirements for eligible teams
There must be at least 2 active students on the team (enrolled in a credit-bearing undergraduate, graduate, and/or post-doc program) for the duration of the proposed grant period.
All teams require a faculty advisor (or center or administrative director) to act as Principal Investigator. The PI will be responsible for tracking, overseeing, and reporting the disbursement of grant funds. Students cannot serve as Principal Investigators.
Other team members should include advisors from within and outside the university who have experience, knowledge, and network connections that will contribute to the team’s success. We strongly suggest that there is both technical and business expertise represented on the team. There is no maximum team size, although the average size of successful teams is usually between 4 and 10 members.
The team must be a part of an NCIIA member institution (US-based college or university). Check here to see if your college or university is a member. If your institution is not a member, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eligible technology inventions and innovations
NCIIA supports the development of technological innovations that are scalable, commercially promising, and have a positive impact on society and/or the environment. Many E-Team inventions and innovations fall into one of the following categories:
Biomedical devices, health care solutions, and/or global health-based technologies
Clean technologies and green/sustainable materials
Technologies for low-resource settings (US and/or internationally) that address poverty alleviation and basic human needs such as affordable energy, clean water, health and medical devices, agriculture, IT and other income-generating tools
Other compelling technologies beyond those listed above that meet the program criteria will also be considered.
Examples of projects that are ineligible for the E-Team Program:
Faculty-driven projects in which participating students have no ownership of resulting intellectual property (IP). (We understand IP policies vary by institution; if IP ownership is not an option, then the opportunity of students playing key roles in the venture is important.) NCIIA strongly recommends that each team reads and understands its campus IP policy before applying.
Pure research projects without any defined commercial applications or potential.
Projects without any student involvement.
Projects without a clear technology invention or innovation.
Projects that don't address a path to commercialization.
Projects without a clearly articulated social and/or environmental impact.
Projects that do not involve an emphasis on entrepreneurship and/or that begin and end in the classroom.
The E-Team Program is a competitive process which consists of 3 stages. To enter the E-Team Program, all teams must apply first for Stage 1. In rare cases, reviewers may fast-track eligible teams directly to Stage 2. Acceptance into Stage 1 does not guarantee acceptance into subsequent stages.
Stage 1: $5,000 funding + workshop Teams that submit successful Stage 1 applications will be awarded a $5,000 Stage 1 E-Team grant and will be required to participate in a 3-day workshop. The $5,000 award is intended to cover travel expenses related to attending the workshop and to assist the team with minor expenses associated with furthering their innovation.
The Stage 1 workshop focuses on market validation and discovery. Workshop exercises will help teams understand how to articulate the value of their innovation and to validate that the market they have identified is indeed the right market for their innovation. Teams come out of the workshop with the ability to better describe the market or markets they have identified, articulate the value of their innovation in that market, and articulate the competitive position they have within those markets.
The workshop will better position teams for the Stage 2 application process. Full participation is required in order to receive Stage 1 grant funds. NCIIA does not allow overhead to be taken out of E-Team program grant awards.
Stage 2: up to $20,000 funding + workshop + tactical coaching + network After attending the Stage 1 workshop, Stage 1 E-Teams may apply for Stage 2. E-Teams accepted into Stage 2 will receive up to $20,000 in additional grant funding and will be required to attend a Stage 2 workshop.
The Stage 2 workshop focuses on business models. In the Stage 2 workshop, teams learn how to develop and validate a business model.
Following the Stage 2 workshop, E-Teams will receive tactical coaching from NCIIA to guide them towards successful validation of their business model and completion of key milestones. Teams will be grouped by technology sector and will be required to participate in 6 coaching sessions via conference call. Full participation in the Stage 2 workshop and regular participation in 6 scheduled coaching sessions is a required component of Stage 2 funding.
Note: Stage 1 E-Teams can click HERE for specific guidelines for submitting Stage 2 applications.
Stage 3: The VentureWell Program and Investment Opportunity NCIIA’s VentureWell program focuses on helping teams develop a "lens of the investor" perspective. Participating teams will provide peer mentoring and feedback to each other during the program. The program will culminate in a venture forum, during which teams will compete for investment from NCIIA, plus additional funds from our partners. NCIIA will invest up to $50,000 in two to three Stage 3 teams per year.
At this time, the VentureWell program is designed for for-profit ventures only. At least two sector-specific sections will be offered each year: one for teams working in cleantech and software, and the other for teams working on biomedical and/or health-related devices.
NCIIA typically invests in Stage 3 teams through convertible debt and does so on a case by case basis. Stage 1 and Stage 2 funding consists of grants to the team and is not in exchange for equity or debt. Stage 1 and Stage 2 funding is through the home university of the team. Stage 3 funding is directly to the company that the team has formed. At Stage 3 there are no requirements that there be currently enrolled students on the team.
The 2013/2014 schedule
Below is the schedule of E-Team Program dates and deadlines for the 2013/2014 academic year. Workshop attendance is required for participating E-Teams.
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 Principle Investigator is the faculty/staff member taking primary responsibility for the proposal and will be responsible for the grant and reporting requirements. 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.
Department Chair (DC) The Department Chair oversees the lead project department (usually the PI’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 to the proposed project.
Neglecting to secure and receive online verification of support from required advisors is a common problem for applicants who wait until the last minute to start a proposal. Applicants should contact their Office of Sponsored Grants/Research or the equivalent well ahead (weeks) of our grant deadline to inform them they plan to submit a proposal. Many colleges and universities may require a full proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted to NCIIA.
The NCIIA supports 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 its E-Team grants. Applicants are advised to take appropriate steps to protect their intellectual property before submitting a proposal.
Please read and understand your institution’s intellectual property policy before submitting an application.
All program 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 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 E-Team Program proposal, but steps for the application are the same. This PDF is for preview purposes only.
Writing your Proposal: required and optional components
As part of the online application process, you will be prompted to upload the following components into your proposal:
Required proposal components combined together in a single PDF (title page, proposal narrative, letter(s) of support, and key team member resumes). We strongly encourage the following naming convention for this PDF: "TeamName_University_ETeamProposal" (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue)
Additional appendices (optional) combined together in a single PDF (up to 5 total). We strongly encourage the following naming convention for this PDF: "TeamName_University_ETeamAppendix" (be sure to use YOUR OWN information for the fields in blue)
1. REQUIRED: Title Page and Proposal Narrative Your proposal narrative may not exceed 5 pages in length using 12-point Times font and 1-inch margins.
Title page(NOT included in the 5 page limit): Please create a title page with the following information:
Name of team/name of venture
Listing of E-Team members including name, degree sought, and year of expected graduation for each person
Technology and value proposition (1-2 pages): Describe your technology and its value proposition. Address the following questions in this section:
What is your invention or technology innovation and is it technically feasible? Have you demonstrated proof of the key principle(s)? Does it work? Have you done a “prior art search” and do you have freedom to operate? Please explain and include details in your appendix.
Have you developed a physical prototype or proof of concept? Document the development of your prototype with drawings, digital documentation, or data demonstrating its effectiveness. If not, describe your plans for proof of concept.
What problem are you solving for what customers? In what way is it better than other solutions on the market?
What large-scale impact would successful adoption of your innovation create (e.g., lives saved, amount of C02 reduction, increased income to customers, etc.)?
Business model and market (1-2 pages): Describe the commercial potential of your technology. We are aware that early stage teams are in development, and therefore we recognize that you may have work to do in this area. Refining your business model is the focus of the Stage 1 VentureLab workshop. Address the following in your proposal narrative with an understanding that strategies may change:
Describe the market and customers that you intend to reach, and explain how you will engage them.
Who are your target customers, and have you talked to any? (Note: your customers may be different from the end users of your product or service.)
How does what you are proposing compare with the competition?
What is your commercialization plan? How will you approach the manufacturing, marketing, sales, distribution, and support of your product or service?
How do you intend to make this economically sustainable? Describe the costs to produce and support your product and your expected sales price.
What is the structure you envision for your venture? Do you expect to (or have you already) form a non-profit, for-profit, joint venture? Have you considered a licensing arrangement? Do you have rights to any key intellectual property? If not, how do you expect to obtain those rights?
Team (half page): Please include within the narrative a 1-2 sentence description of each team member. Identify specifically the key team members who will see this project through to market.
Who are the key team members and what roles will they play (1-2 sentence on each)? Please specify which key team members are currently students.
Who will lead the technical and business model development?
Do you have outside mentors, advisors, and/or partners?
Note: If your team is working on a technolgy for low-resource settings in the US or aboard, please also address the following:
Identify any partners (individuals, community leaders, nonprofits or NGOs, etc.) outside of your institution who will provide connections and access to the field and end-users.
Identify any partners who can help the team commercialize any resulting technologies.
Explain how the team wil address possible language, cultural, and social barriers. Has the team traveled to the community in which you propose to work?
Work plan and outcomes (1 page): Summarize a realistic and specific plan for moving forward, from today to initial sales.
In a table format, list the 10 to 15 high-level steps, describing each briefly, and with a timeline that will get you from today to readiness for initial sales.
What does success look like and how will you measure it?
2. REQUIRED: Letter(s) of Support Letters of support demonstrate to reviewers that there is institutional support for your project and/or to verify partnerships discussed in your narrative. At least 1 letter is required as part of your proposal. You may include up to 3 total. More weight will be given to letters of support from potential customers, partners industry experts, and mentors that verify the key elements of your proposal over general letters of support from friends, family, or supportive faculty (although these may also be appropriate and of value).
3. REQUIRED: Resumes Resumes should be no more than 3 pages each, and are only required for key team members, with a maximum of 4 resumes included. We do not need resumes for the Administrative Contact or other non-key team members/collaborators.
Any data collected as part of testing your technology
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 5-page narrative. Therefore, key information should be included in the narrative.
Optional: Weblinks and/or Videos In addition to the appendices combined as 1 PDF mentioned above, teams may upload up to 4 weblinks, such as links to online articles, videos and/or other relevant online data.
If you choose to include a video as part of your proposal, a link to the video should be uploaded as an appendix item and referenced in the narrative. Videos are not required, but they can help your proposal stand out or demonstrate how your technology works. Some applicants have told us that the process of making a short video helped them focus on their message and on key proposal elements. Keep videos under 2 minutes. A video pitch, if included, should state the problem, describe your innovation, and the impact of the team's solution. Clear, non-technical language is acceptable and may be preferable. To view some samples, watch the top videos submitted by participants in NCIIA's annual Open Minds event.
Submitted proposals 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.
All proposals will be considered for Stage 1 participation ($5,000 and a Stage 1 workshop). Proposals that demonstrate not only a promising technology but articulate a compelling business model, knowledge of the market, and a specific strategy for implementation and commercialization may be fast-tracked and considered for Stage 2 participation (up to $20,000 and participation in the Stage 2 workshop). In this case, NCIIA will ask the team for additional information, including a proposed budget. This fast-track is the exception.
NCIIA strives to notify applicants of the status of their proposals via email within 60 days of the submission deadline. In most cases, proposals are either funded or rejected.
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 anticipate that 15-20% of received proposals will be approved for Stage 1. If accepted, initial grant funding will not be disbursed until the team has committed to participate in the required Stage 1 workshop.
NCIIA will email the Principal Investigator, the Administrative Contact, and the applicant a formal notification letter and approved budget.
Grant funds will be awarded to the team’s college or university for the use of the team.
Stage 1 E-Teams will need to commit to sending at least 2 key team members to a Stage 1 workshop (expenses are covered in the Stage 1 $5,000 grant). E-Teams accepted from the October 2013 pool of applications should be prepared to attend the workshop on January 10-12, 2014 in Massachusetts. See the event schedule in these guidelines for additional details.
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.
Stage 1 reporting requirements will be outlined in the award letter.
Teams may choose to apply for Stage 2 of the E-Team Program after the Stage 1 workshop. Click HERE to view the application guidelines for Stage 2.
Please note: NCIIA does not allow overhead to be taken out of E-Team Program grant awards.
Congratulations, you read the guidelines! If you are still unsure about whether your idea is a fit or have questions that are not answered in the above, email a 1-paragraph abstract for feedback to email@example.com or call the grants team at (413) 587-2172.
Click here to view our most recently funded E-Teams.
The E-Team Program provides early-stage support and funding of up to $75,000 for collegiate entrepreneurs working on market-based technology inventions.
Since 1995, our E-Team grants have been funding collegiate student and student/faculty teams to move ideas out of the lab and classroom and into the marketplace. The program enhances this opportunity by providing expert entrepreneurial and venture coaching, experiential workshops, and a potential investment opportunity to help realize the commercial success of the technology inventions and innovations that come through our organization.
Selected E-Team Program participants may also be invited to exhibit their technologies at Open Minds, the annual showcase of breakthrough technologies from NCIIA's top student teams. The 2014 Open Minds exhibition will be held in San Jose, CA, March 21-22 during NCIIA's annual conference, OPEN.
E-Team Program Stages
Stage 1 provides funding of up to $5,000 to attend a three-day workshop on market analysis and value proposition development. The intensive hands-on workshop is based on NCIIA's successful Lens of the Market and InnovationLab curriculum. The focus of Stage One is to better articulate the opportunity for the innovation in the marketplace and to develop near-term milestones. Remaining funds may be used to support further development of your project/product.
Stage 2 provides additional funding of up to $20,000. A required, intensive workshop helps teams further develop their business model. Six monthly sessions of coaching follow the workshop, guiding the team from confirmation to execution of their business model.
Stage 3 Eligible Stage 2 teams may be invited to participate in Stage 3 - NCIIA's VentureWell program. VentureWell focuses on helping teams develop a “lens of the investor” perspective and culminates in a venture forum to present to potential investors. NCIIA will invest up to $50,000 in two to three Stage 3 teams per year, typically in the form of convertible debt.
At this time the VentureWell program is designed for for-profit ventures only. Two sector-specific sections will be offered each year: one in the winter for teams working on cleantech devices, and one in the summer for teams working on biomedical and/or health-related devices.
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.
E-Team Program submission deadlines:
February 7, 2014
May 9, 2014
Read the guidelines before you apply! The answers to most of your questions are in the program guidelines---program details and deadlines; how to apply; examples of eligible technologies; selection criteria; information about how to apply, and more.
Is the E-Team Program for you?
Students and faculty from NCIIA member institutions (US-based colleges and universities) are welcome to apply. Funding is awarded to institutions (not directly to individuals or teams). Submissions are evaluated by external panels of reviewers and will be judged on the following:
Technology innovation and feasibility
Business model and commercial potential
Team composition, commitment, expertise, and institutional support
You may preview a PDF of the online application here. PLEASE NOTE: this PDF includes screen shots of NCIIA's five-step proposal process. The proposal content shown may vary slightly from the E-Team Program proposal, but steps for the application are the same. This PDF is for preview purposes only.
The first Lean LaunchPad Educators Program, held August 22-24 in Berkeley, was a big success. Read this post from an attendee, who called it "two and half of the most transformational days of my professional career."
Join us this winter for the next workshop, held at the end of January. Exact dates and registration will be made live soon. Check back at this page for updates.
We're pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 BMEStart biomedical design competition for undergraduate students.
First place, winning $10,000: AssureFit Chest Tube Stabilization Device, Clemson University
Chest tube insertions are the most commonly performed surgical procedure in thoracic surgery. However, up to 30% of chest tube insertions involve complications that can include dislodgement, which requires immediate action. It is crucial to properly secure a chest tube on the first attempt so that the patient doesn’t have to undergo unnecessary pain and additional risk.
This team’s device will eliminate the current method of securement (sutures and adhesives) by decreasing the distance between the tube insertion site and the anchoring site. The device is comprised of an eight-petalled silicone elastomer ring that slides over the chest tube up to the insertion site, where it is sutured to the skin. The device can contour to the patient’s body with a secure form-fit because of the thin petalled design and the material used.
Second place, winning $5,000: QuickStitch - Improved Fascia Closure Tool, Johns Hopkins University
Approximately 9-19% of 4-5 million open abdominal surgeries each year result in postoperative complications, which cost the health care system $2.5 billion per year. The main cause of these complications is the improper closure of fascia, a layer of muscle underneath the skin that protects the internal organs. Currently, fascia closure is performed with the traditional combination of suture and needle. But this method requires surgeons to roughly estimate suture placement across the incision, leading to uneven placement and compromised closure integrity, and the internal organs are exposed to the sharp needle.
To address these issues, this team designed the QuickStitch, a mechanical suturing device that will better uphold the integrity of the fascia layer. The QuickStitch is a plier-like device that can drive and transfer a needle across its jaw. To use the QuickStitch, the surgeon places the fascia between the jaws of the device, squeezes the handle, and toggles a switch to transfer the needle across the layer. The needle is protected in the process, eliminating exposure to the intestines. With this device, surgeons can close fascia more safely, easily, and consistently.