Course and Program grants guidelines
Introduction | Who may apply | Selection criteria | Institutional representatives | Intellectual property policy | How to apply | The proposal: required and optional components | The review and notification process | If your proposal is approved
Course and Program grants are awarded to institutions for the purpose of strengthening existing curricular programs or building new programs in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Through these grant funds, NCIIA supports creative pedagogical approaches that generate 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, we encourage you to apply for a Sustainable Vision grant instead of a Course and Program grant. Learn more about the Sustainable Vision grants program here.
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.
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.
Eligible applications will be evaluated against the following 5 elements:
- Focus on technology invention and innovation that leads to the formation and support of student E-Teams.
- Connections to existing people and/or resources on campus and beyond to support resulting E-Teams after their participation in the proposed course/program.
- Institutional commitment to support and sustain the course/program and a plan to sustain the course/program beyond NCIIA funding.
- Focus on entrepreneurship and demonstration that students can play a meaningful role in technology development and any resulting venture creation.
- Positive social and/or environmental impact.
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 no 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 student projects could be supported beyond the classroom.
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.
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.
Applicants should contact their Office of Sponsored Grants/Research or the equivalent well ahead (weeks) of our 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.
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.
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 11:59pm 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 five-step proposal process. The proposal content shown may vary slightly from the Course and Program grant proposal, but steps for the application are the same. This PDF is for preview purposes only.
- 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 in below in these guidelines.
- Proposal narrative
- Proposed budget (in the NCIIA template, which should be downloaded here or directly from the online proposal application)
- Letter(s) of support (at least 1 required, maximum of 3 accepted)
- Team member resumes (4 resumes maximum, each limited to 3 pages per resume)
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 is 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 students will be involved?
- How will the proposed course or program lead to the creation of student E-Teams? Will resulting teams be multidisciplinary (multidisciplinary teams are encouraged but not required)?
- What are the intended educational, social and/or environmental impacts?
History and context
- Provide a brief background of how the program or project began and what has been accomplished so far (if anything).
- What gap(s) are you addressing on your campus; what do you feel is missing?
- 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 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, colleges, etc.). This support may go beyond the proposed course or program, but proposals should demonstrate that support is available for some teams to further develop a path to market.
Work plan and outcomes
- What are the program development 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?
- Will the course or program continue beyond the end of the grant period? If so, how will it be funded? Is your program replicable?
2. 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. Including specific budget justifications is 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.
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 can not cover institutional overhead or faculty salaries, but can provide faculty stipends of up to $5,000 (the $5,000 maxiumum includes any applicable cost of fringe benefits).
Ineligible expenses include, but are not limited to:
3. 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.
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.
Optional Supporting Documents
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.
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.
The review and notification process
- Submitted proposals are 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 selelcted 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."
- Funds are awarded to US-based colleges and universities.
- The Principal Investigator will receive a formal notification letter and approved budget.
- NCIIA will send an award letter contract for signature to the Administrative Contact identified by the team. 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 responsible for reporting on grant activities within a specified timeframe, and 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.
Congratulations, you read the guidelines!
Please note that applicants may not submit both a Sustainable Vision grant and a Course and Program Grant for the same idea during the same grant cycle.
If you are still unsure about whether your idea is a fit, email a one paragraph abstract for feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the grants team at (413) 587-2172.
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