September 2012

Stage 3

Stage 3 of the E-Team Program is a venture development and investor readiness program, intended to help NCIIA E-Teams develop their businesses to the point where they can secure their first formal round of financing. Currently only for-profit ventures are supported  at Stage 3.


Two sector-specific  programs will be offered each year, typically cleantech and health, although other sectors may be offered a well.
Currently running is Village Capital VentureWell Health Boston 2014, a three-month, outcome based accelerator program for early stage innovative medical devices, diagnostic technologies and health IT platforms.  The thirteen startups that are currently taking part in the Boston-based programs will present to leading investors and be mentored by industry leaders and other participating teams. At the end of the program, two ventures will be selected by their peers to each receive $50,000 in investment. Because these programs include both E-Teams and other teams at a similar stage. this peer-selected investment may or may not go to an E-Team.

The second VentureWell program for 2014 will be held in the fall with a focus on cleantech, in partnership with Village Capital and Greentown Labs.  

E-Teams are also encouraged to apply for other programs conducted by Village Capital on which we are not partnering. Please request a recommendation from NCIIA when/if you apply so that we can encourage Village Capital to view your application favorably!


VentureWell Investments

In addition to the Stage 3 programs with Village Capital, NCIIA also makes direct investments in E-Teams. Teams who have gone through the Stage 3 program or who are currently participating are preferred, but other E-Teams that are at the appropriate stage of development will also be considered.

We make 2-3 investments of up to $50,000 each per year. Selected teams are required to undergo suitable due diligence, as well as a 1:1 match from other accredited, sophisticated investors. Investments are administratively managed by Impact Assets on behalf of NCIIA.

For more information please contact

A partial list of some of the teams in which we have invested include:

IntelliWheels Founded by students at University of Illinois, IntelliWheels is launching a geared replacement wheel for wheelchairs. IntelliWheels received a NCIIA E-Team grant in 2010 and participated in NCIIA's Open Minds exhibition in 2010. The company has just recently raised equity funds from Serra Ventures, VentureWell, and others.


SmarterShade SmarterShade has a proprietary technology to produce a window that can be adjusted from transparent to opaque, at 1/3 the cost of the competition. The company, which came out of Notre Dame University, received a NCIIA E-Team grant in 2007 and participated in NCIIA's Open Minds exhibition in 2008. They have since received equity funding from VentureWell and others.


Promethean Power A company based in Massachusetts and in India, Promethean Power provides milk cooling and storage equipment to the Indian dairy industry. The genesis of the project was in part funded by a NCIIA E-Team grant received in 2007.


Therapeutic Systems Founded by a PhD student team from University of Massachusetts Amherst, Therapeutic Systems makes the Vayu Vest, a product for autistic children. Therapeutic Systems received a NCIIA E-Team grant in 2007 and participated in NCIIA's Open Minds exhibition in 2009.


E-Team brings medical device innovation to market

In August of 2009, Stanford University student Ben Cline and D-Rev CEO Krista Donaldson came to the first Sustainable Vision Advanced Invention to Venture (AI2V) workshop in Cambridge. Three years later, their product, Brilliance, a low cost, low maintenance opto-medical device to treat neonatal jaundice, is on the market in India and they are looking to expand to East Africa. Donaldson estimates that early data suggests 13 babies will get treatment per device per month in urban hospitals, which means lives saved and brain damage averted. These results will be closely tracked. Cline’s contribution has been instrumental in early stages of product development of Brilliance. His accomplishments, during later stages, in an advisory role to bring Brilliance to Point-of-Scale are also commendable. His early partnership with D-Rev, was a key factor to this success.

Note: This article has been corrected since its original post to address some factual errors.

Read the New York Times article on Brilliance.

NCIIA grantees among Fast Company's 50 Designers Shaping the Future

Krista Donaldson, D-Rev CEO and Stanford lecturer and Mariana Amatullo, cofounder and vice president of Designmatters at Art Center College of Design were named two of the 50 most influential designers "pushing the boundaries of their discipline into promising new directions."

Donaldson and Amatullo are both past recipients of NCIIA E-Team and Course & Program Grants. Amatullo and her students at Designmatters are responsible for the GiraDora, a manually powered washing machine designed to address issues related to water poverty and a notable entry in Fast Company's 2012 Innovation by Design Awards.

Read the article in Fast Company.

Village Capital and VentureWell Bring Peer Investment Program to Boston

NCIIA and its VentureWell subsidiary are excited to announce a partnership with Village Capital to produce an educational program for innovators and entrepreneurs seeking early stage financing. Village Capital/VentureWell will provide a group of up to 15 teams with two intensive three-day sessions separated by eight weekly webinars. The program will start in Boston on November 29, and conclude with the peer selection of the two teams that merit investment of $50,000 each.

Attention E-Teams!
The Village Capital/VentureWell program is restricted to for-profit ventures and is ideally suited for E-Teams that have received and largely executed upon E-Team grant funding milestones. The focus of the current program is on IT and cleantech ventures, as well as those at the intersection of IT and cleantech, with a focus on serving low-resource populations in the U.S. or customers in emerging markets. Future programs are expected to focus on other sectors such as medical products.
Visit and select Village Capital for more information on Village Capital/VentureWell - Boston.

Student Ambassador Testimonials


"I formed a coalition of student leaders in entrepreneurship. This facilitated greater communication between groups and allowed our first annual Undergraduate Entrepreneurship week to be a success." -Maggie, Duke University, 2011 cohort

"The University has acknowledged our work and the engineering school is very impressed by the thought of spreading "new ideas and innovation" in the campus. TedxColumbiaEngineeringSchool which was the I2V event here at Columbia has gained high popularity and the school has decided to organize this event every year now, many department are showing their interest to host this event under their umbrella."-Mayank, Columbia University, 2011 cohort

"I have been able to really analyze the entrepreneurial activities on campus and how collaborations can increase participation. I helped develop a program that will be implemented this fall called the Weatherford Garage that will bring entrepreneurial minds together in an intense yearlong program on running a business. This gives a new level to our already successful entrepreneurial programs for freshman engagement."-Jenny, Oregon State University 2011 cohort

"Everyone who attended TEDxBU “Students Startup America” said is was great – informative and inspirational." -Joe, Boston University, 2012 cohort

"The Art Center College of Design is a school full of genuine curiosity, sparking creativity and directed passion, which makes it an incubator for potential young entrepreneurial spirits. The $50 Challenge was an event created to highlight these qualities and inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow." -Marianna, Art Center College of Design 2012 cohorT

"It has been an exciting month at the University of Texas.  Just in time for National Entrepreneurship Week,  I hosted Michael Dell at an interactive event discussing his experiences beginning a startup in college and becoming the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company.  It was a full house!  477 excited students, faculty, and community members crowded in to hear Mr. Dell be interviewed by Dr. Bob Metcalfe, inventor of ethernet, founder of 3Com Corp., former partner at Polaris Ventures, and current professor of innovation at UT-Austin." -Mariel, University of Texas at Austin 2012 cohort


"Meeting the other students and hearing their stories. It's very motivating, and I think even more valuable than any other aspect of training when you're working with a new group. The team building day at the ropes course was a huge help in accomplishing a connection within the group."

"Bringing together such an amazing group of staff and students to increase our networks and learn about the entrepreneurial activities going on on campuses around the US."

"The networking opportunity with the other great NCIIA Student Ambassadors. Created a sense of urgency to do extremely well since the group was exceptional. Sparked passion."

"I had a great time. Everyone was fantastic. I can't wait to get back to campus and blow people away."

"The teamwork and collaboration between NCIIA staff and new student ambassadors to layout a plan for building entrepreneurship at each of our Universities."


Student Ambassador Training


The training for Student Ambassadors is essential for the strong start of one's Student Ambassadorship. The three-day training covers topics as diverse as:

  • Common issues and dynamics of the campus ecosystem
  • How to organize a winning TEDx or I2V event
  • What is a SPARK* and how do I develop one?
  • Conducting a landscape analysis
  • And much much more!

In addition, the opportunity to hear from other Student Ambassadors about their campus environment enables students to benchmark best practices and bring back implementable solutions. The entire cohort of Student Ambassadors form a close bond that is maintained throughout the year, proving to be an important network of ideas, advice and support.

Read what past Student Ambassadors have said about training.

*Exercises designed to catalyze innovation and creativity

Entrepreneurial Agriculture: A Jr./Sr. Colloquium & Internship

Rutgers University, 2012 - $40,250

In Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS), faculty and students pursue mission-based teaching, research, and outreach that address real-world problems. However, only a few students who major in agriculture, food and related disciplines demonstrate significant enthusiasm for creating their own companies and pursuing entrepreneurship after graduation. SEBS currently offers no undergraduate courses on entrepreneurship specifically targeted at Production Agriculture and Food.

This grant supports the creation of Entrepreneurial Agriculture (EA), a course designed to promote value creation in production agriculture and food processing through E-Teams. In the course, students will learn the basics of entrepreneurship and come up with an innovation in Production Ag and Food. In addition, EA students will be able to participate in a competitive summer internship program focused on the food/ag industry, receiving hands-on experience and learning which new inventions could add value. Students will compete by presenting a product or service idea that they would like to explore through a hands-on summer internship. The internships are not job placement opportunities; rather, students will have the real world experience in their area of interest and be encouraged to come back to school post internship and be supported to develop new products and ventures. Finally, the grant will support Rutgers’ Students E-Team (RUSTET), a club whose mission will be to promote entrepreneurship in production agriculture and food processing.

Commercialization Opportunities in Environmental Chemistry at Dominican University of California

Dominican University of California, 2012 - $29,050

This grant will provide a structured platform for Dominican University (DU) Chemistry majors and MBA students to collaborate on opportunities for research, development, and commercialization of “green chemistry”-related products. The new courses will encourage students to focus their chemistry research on sustainable solutions to environmental issues. The collaboration between science and MBA students will lead to the creation of E-Teams and business plans. The E-Teams will use the Venture Greenhouse, a DU business accelerator and incubator program, to learn how to take their projects out of the lab and into the market. An initial focal area of research for students will be the potential for biofuels derived from algae. If successful, the program will move to expand the focus to other topics in green chemistry. This program is also answering a demand from MBA students without a science background who want to engage with and gain experience working in the green sector.

Changing the Classroom: Building Student-led Learning

Tufts University, 2012 - $34,000

The Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (ELP) at Tufts educates undergraduate students in arts, sciences and engineering on the principles of entrepreneurship. Since the ELP started in 2002, over 375 students have completed the minor. But while the program is popular, students enrolled in it currently lack the resources and opportunity to build prototypes and the program has had very few engineering students (1 in 10). The students learn about the business side of entrepreneurship, but rarely move their products beyond paper designs in class.

The goal of this grant is to combine the BotLAB, an on-campus workshop developed by mechanical engineering students with a focus on robotics, with the ELP to create the iLab or inventor's lab. Students from different disciplines will work together to invent and fabricate ideas and then attempt to take them to market by teaming with other students with the necessary expertise. Funding will go toward running competitions and developing a scaffold of curricular and advising assistance to help students productize and commercialize their ideas.

USC Social Innovation Design Lab

University of Southern California, 2012 - $43,300

This grant supports the creation of the Social Innovation Design Lab at the University of Southern California, a semester-long course in which interdisciplinary student teams develop solutions to challenges faced by impoverished residents of the San Joaquin Valley (a community located four hours north of campus). The prosperity of USC’s campus stands in stark contrast to the San Joaquin Valley’s high pollution levels, poor access to nutritive foods, and lack of basic infrastructure. The course will use the “design thinking” process, a systematic approach to problem solving that begins with consumer empathy and iterates toward better solutions. Students will engage in community immersion, need finding, business analysis, prototyping, and testing solutions designed to fit community needs. The goal of the course is to move the most promising of students’ social innovations from the idea stage, to prototype, to market.