Previously funded E-Team grants

Stage 1 E-Team Program grantees (receiving $5k each):

Stage 2 E-Team Program grantees (receiving $20k each):
AssureFit Chest Tube Stabilizer (Clemson University)
A device that properly aligns and secures a chest tube within the pleural cavity.
BioD (Georgetown University)
A low-cost anaerobic digester that effectively delivers cooking fuel for households in rural communities.
Dr Addams (Case Western Reserve University)
A surgical simulator that teaches nurses how to hand surgical instruments to the operating surgeon—including instrument identification, instrument placement, speed, and providing sufficient placement force—in a way that is more realistic than the training and practice methods currently available. 
Haiti Electrical Alliance Team: Moveable Grid (University of Colorado at Boulder)
A battery unit designed for use in Haiti that can be charged from either 220 V sources (the grid, diesel generators) or direct current sources (solar panels). 
Medishine (Oaklahoma State University)
A new point-of-care treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. 
MegaMatter (California Polytechnic The first non-toxic flame retardeant alternative to HBCD, a toxic flame retardant recently banned by over 160 countries at the United Nation's Stockholm Convention. 
Mobius SLIP (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
A Learning Management System that takes students and teachers beyond Peer grading to a social learning environment that promotes creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. 
Nonspec (University of Massachusetts, Lowell)
A low cost, durable prosthetic for developing countries that can "grow" with a child, decreasing the number of prosthetics he or she requires over time. 
PathMeT (Pathway Measurement Tool) (University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus)
A device that can measure pathways for current Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines such as cross slope, running slope, roughness and level change, aimed at helping the entities responsible for development, construction, and evaluation of pathway surfaces comply with government regulations. 
Point-of-Care Blood Typing Microdevice (Michigan Technological University)
A portable, low-cost, easy to use device that can quickly identify a person's blood type without using perishable antibodies. 
R-ARM: Robotic Assistive Reaching Mechanism (Rice University)
A two-joint robotic arm that attaches to the back of a wheelchair and serves as a reach assistant, helping with upper-body limitations retrieve objects. 
Team Safe-C (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
A user-friendly device that will safely and quickly disimpact the fetal head during Cesarean section, improving maternal and fetal outcomes. 
Vibronix (Purdue University)
A device that can provide comprehensive information on the condition of a patient's artery wall—particularly core plaque—in vivo, revolutionizing atherosclerosis diagnosis and treatment. 
ChallTech, LLC (Lehigh University)
A way to capture a rowers' workout data on a mobile device, synchronize it with an online website and provide an online team management system.
CheckMate: Disposable Timers For Healthcare Events (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
A color-changing, disposable sticker that lets medical personnel know when a commonly used device—IVs, wound dressings, catheters—needs to be replaced.
HMSolution (Brown University)
A water filtration system that reduces arsenic and heavy metals concentrations to safe levels and requires little to no maintenance for 10+ years.
Kohana: The First Discreetly Wearable Compression Breast Pump (Johns Hopkins University)
A hands-free, concealable, and quiet breast pump that women can use discreetly in the presence of others.
OttoClave (Case Western Reserve University)
A new autoclave, designed for rural health clinics in South Asia, which simplifies the sterilization process by giving users instructions in their native language and telling them when instruments are completely cleaned.
ProVazo (University of Virginia)
A minimalistic device that allows for pain-free blood sampling.
Trash 2 Cash-Energy(University of South Florida)
A catalytic process that turns an environmentally harmful byproduct of decaying garbage into fuel that could powers the fleet of garbage trucks. 

See more previously funded grantees >

E-Team Program Guidelines

E-Team Program Guidelines - Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the entire guidelines prior to submitting.

Introduction | Program Eligibility | 
Program Details
 | 2014/2015 Schedule | Selection Criteria
 | Team Advisors
 | Intellectual Property Policies |How to Apply | Writing your Proposal
 | The Review and Notification Process | If your Proposal is Approved

 | Stage 2 Program Guidelines (for Stage 1 E-Teams only)

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 Stage 3 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: $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.

For details on the E-Team Program stages, please see the program details and deadlines section of these guidelines.

E-Team Program goals:

  • Support the development of technology-based inventions and innovations that have a positive benefit to society and/or environmental impact in the US and/or globally.
  • Assist E-Teams with developing a business model that will help turn ideas into products and get them 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, 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.

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Program Eligibility

This program is for US-based college or university student-led teams, not for individual inventors. 
NCIIA encourages proposals that involve students and advisors from engineering, science, business, design, and liberal arts disciplines.

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 of 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


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 for students to play 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.

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Program Details

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.

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: Training and Investment Opportunity
NCIIA’s Stage 3 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 Stage 3 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 one 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.

2014/2015 Stage 1 and Stage 2 schedule

Below is the schedule of Stage 1 and 2 of the E-Team Program dates and deadlines for the 2014/2015 academic year. Please note, if you are accepted you will attend the workshop on the dates listed below.

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Selection Criteria

In general, eligible applications will be evaluated on the following 4 elements:

  1. Technology innovation and feasibility
  2. Business model and commercial potential
  3. Team composition, commitment, expertise, and institutional support
  4. Positive social and/or environmental impact

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Required E-Team advisors

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.  

**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.

Principal Investigator (PI)

The Principal 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.

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Intellectual property policies

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.

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How to Apply

All program applications must be submitted via our online system. 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.

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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)
  • 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. Title page and proposal narrative (the narrative should be no more than 5 pages, the title page is not included in this page limit)
  2. Letter(s) of support (a minimum of 1 is required, a maximum of 3 may be included)
  3. Team member resumes (up to 4 resumes, each limited to 3 pages per resume)

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
  • University
  • List of each team member. Include: name, degree sought month and year of expected graduation

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. 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 for-profit or 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. Note: there must be at least TWO active, enrolled students on the team for the duration of the grant period.
  • 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 technology for low-resource settings in the US or abroad, 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 will 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? 

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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).

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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.

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Optional: Additional Appendices 
Up to 5 additional appendices may be included in your proposal and must be combined into 1 PDF. Appendices may include but are not limited to:

  1. Images demonstrating design and/or technical feasibility (drawings, photographs, etc.)
  2. A summary of prior art
  3. Literature review summary
  4. Any data collected as part of testing your technology
  5. 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

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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, 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.

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If your Proposal is Approved

  • 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-See the event schedule in these guidelines for workshop dates.
  • 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 or call the grants team at (413) 587-2172.


2014-15 E-Team Program


Next E-Team Stage 1 Deadline: October 3, 2014

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. Teams must be affiliated with a NCIIA Member Institution to apply.

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 2015 Open Minds exhibition will be held in Washington DC, March 20-21 during NCIIA's annual conference, OPEN.

E-Team Program Stages

Stage 1 provides funding of $5,000 to attend a three-day workshop on market analysis and value proposition development. The focus of Stage 1 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, which 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.

Stage 3 is currently conducted in association with our partner Village Capital.

At this time Stage 3 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:

  • October 3, 2014
  • February 6, 2015
  • May 8, 2015

Program guidelines

Read the guidelines before you apply!
The answers to most of your questions are in the program guidelines---program details and deadlines; information about how to apply; examples of eligible technologies; selection criteria 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. Please note: funding is awarded to institutions (universities or colleges), 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
  • Positive benefit to society and/or environmental impact

Not sure your technology is a fit? First, read the guidelines: Still not sure? Email us a short abstract (one paragraph) and we'll review it and let you know! Send your paragraph to Please send it at least two weeks before the deadline so we have time to read and respond, and you have time to get your proposal in!


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. 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.

Contact us

Questions? Contact us: or call 413-587-2172.

Miret Surgical

Stanford University

Gall bladder removal (cholecystectomy) is the most common general surgical operation in the US, with more than one million cases each year. 600,000 of these are elective, laparoscopic cases performed with ports and a camera, a minimally invasive approach that leaves no visible scar. But these scar-free techniques are burdened by steep learning curves, safety issues and high costs.

Miret Surgical is developing a safe, fast and cost-effective solution for scar-free surgical removal of the gall bladder. Miret’s system uses a novel modular instrument design to wed the advantages of pediatric laparoscopic tools with standard laparoscopic tools. Surgeons assemble and use as many of these modular instruments as needed, and after surgery the patient is left with a hidden incision in the belly button and a few tiny punctures, which will heal quickly and without noticeable scars.


In her words: E-Team grantee Karen McDonald describes her team's speedy ascension

Great news for one of our recent E-Teams! Inserogen, a 2010 E-Team from University of California, Davis, is a grantee of the NSF's new I-Corp program. Inserogen's lead faculty, Karen McDonald, Professor of Chemical Engineering and  Materials Science, told us about her team's progress.

"Our team, Inserogen, was delighted to be selected as one of the 21 university-based teams participating in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps) program.  I-Corps is a new NSF program that is aimed at providing training and opportunities for university-based teams to assess the commercial viability of their previously funded basic research. Our team's technology is a platform that uses tobacco and other plant materials for rapid and cost-effective production of recombinant proteins, such as vaccines or therapeutic proteins.

"Earlier this year, we were fortunate to receive NCIIA funding through the Advanced E-Team program which will allow us to perform a proof-of-concept demonstration for a veterinary vaccine as a potential product target. In August, Lucas and I attended the NCIIA VentureLab workshop in Cambridge, which was taught by James Barlow. VentureLab was a great experience that accelerated our learning by providing tools that helped us better articulate our business concept, as well as to test and refine our business model. Our goal for the I-Corps program is to identify potential markets for our platform technology, assess commercial readiness, talk to potential customers and partners, and further refine our business model."

Pictured, Lucas Arzola and Karen McDonald in the UC Davis greenhouse.


NCIIA grantee receives NSF I-Corp funding

An NCIIA E-Team that is developing a green tech solution for vaccine manufacturing has been selected as one of 21 teams to receive an inaugural NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) award. Each awardee receives a $50,000 grant from NSF.

The Green Technology for Sustainable Poultry Manufacturing E-Team, led by Karen McDonald from UC-Davis, is developing SwiftVax, a plant production platform that produces animal and human vaccines efficiently and affordably. The technology can rapidly produce large amounts of therapeutics with minimal investment compared to traditional vaccine production infrastructure.
 The team received a $20,000 E-Team grant from NCIIA in 2010, and attended an NCIIA VentureLab to improve its business strategy.

Creating a company - Eben Bayer on the evolution of Ecovative Design

We uncovered this video featuring Eben Bayer of former E-team Ecovative Design. He provides a great insight into his technology and company, and the benefits of green packaging compared to plastics. Bear in mind NCIIA provided Ecovative with its first external funding only four years ago...

Help rename March Madness for the Mind

Help Rename our Showcase of Student Innovation!

For over ten years, NCIIA has held an exhibition at our annual conference to showcase innovations from the best and brightest E-Teams. Frequently, these teams are showcasing their prototypes for the first time. We've called this acclaimed exhibition March Madness for the Mind, but the time has come for a new name.

Be a part of our renaming process by completing this brief survey and sharing your ideas and feedback. The survey will be active until Thursday, October 14th. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated! 

Gen2 Agro

Ohio State University, 2010 - $20,000

Agricultural fungicides, which combat a number of plant blights and diseases, are estimated to prevent the loss of up to 95% of annual crop yields worldwide. At the same time, many current fungicides are petrochemicals that come with major financial and environmental costs from toxicity and chemical buildup in the soil. Organic fungicides offer a safer solution, but are currently much less effective and more expensive than chemical fungicides.

This E-Team, calling itself Gen2 Agro, is developing a next-generation organic fungicide that is over 20% more effective than current organic options, making it comparable in efficacy to chemical alternatives. Gen2 Agro’s product is composed of naturally occurring, non-genetically modified bacteria that has been found to directly attack fungi, secreting byproducts that suppress fungal growth. The team's fungicide will work for some of the world’s most valued crops, including soybeans, wheat, and potatoes.

ABSAL Desalination Systems

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2010 - $12,200

Although the ocean contains over 97% of the total water on Earth, less than 1% of world’s drinking water comes from the ocean. Desalination (the process of removing excess salt from water) on a large scale typically uses extremely large amounts of energy and requires specialized, expensive infrastructure, making it costly compared to the use of fresh water from rivers or groundwater. While most desalination technologies try to increase freshwater output by adding heat, making it an energy-intensive process, this E-Team is developing technology to harvest drinking water from the ocean using only solar energy. This is done by mimicking the water cycle: optimizing variables such as air flow, surface area, and liquid depth to increase evaporation.

The team is targeting developing countries with this technology, estimating a sixteen-gallon daily yield and a cost of $50 per unit for a scaled-down version.

Miret Surgical

Stanford University, 2010 - $19,450

Laparoscopic surgery is a growing surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through very small incisions (0.5-1.5 cm) compared to the larger incisions needed in traditional, open surgical procedures. Patients that undergo laparoscopic surgery enjoy shorter hospital stays and reduced instances of surgery-inflicted morbidity.

This E-Team is taking laparoscopy a step further, developing a set of laparoscopic tools that enable surgery with extremely small incisions leaving no visible scars by enabling assembly of complex tools inside the patient. Existing scar-free techniques are burdened by steep learning curves and high costs, but the E-Team’s device, called ENGAGE™, requires minimal surgeon re-training and aligns with current insurance reimbursement plans.

Relay Technology Management, Inc.

Tufts University, 2010 - $18,000

This E-Team is developing software to make the technology transfer process from academia to industry in the bio and pharma space more efficient. Calling themselves Relay Technology Management, the team is developing software that provides industry in-licensing and corporate strategy groups with competitive intelligence on specific research happening inside universities, and also enables university technology transfer offices to manage their IP portfolios and market the right technologies to the right industry partners.

Specifically, the software will: 1) enable faculty members to enter invention disclosures in a secure, online system; 2) generate an actionable report to the technology transfer office; and 3) market the opportunity to the right industry partner based on licensing needs and sponsored research initiatives.

The business model will be based on a subscription fee to industry partners. The product will be marketed to companies in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, diagnostic, medical device, chemical, physical and clean technology industries. Large players in this space have already confirmed a need for such a service, and have begun pre-ordering subscriptions.


Relay Technology Management launched Business Development Live, a unified, real‐time data visualization, comparative asset analysis and tracking platform for the life sciences industry (May 2012).


Rice University, 2010 - $18,000

Approximately two million babies die each year from acute respiratory infections (ARI), almost all in developing countries. Many neonatal ARI patients in the developing world do not receive proper treatment because hospitals can’t afford ventilators, which cost $6,000 on average.

To combat the problem, this E-Team, calling itself infantAIR, is developing BabyBubbles, a low cost ventilation system for use in developing countries. The device uses a continuous positive airway pressure system, which works by maintaining positive airway pressure during spontaneous breathing, increasing lung volume at the end of exhalation, preventing the collapse of the airway structure, and improving oxygenation. The device helps to keep a baby’s lungs fully inflated so he or she can breathe naturally.

The team is aiming to implement the device in Rwandan hospitals first, followed by worldwide dissemination.

Update: In the summer of 2012, the infantAir team won $2m in funding through the Gates Foundation.

Mobile Information Aggregator (MIA)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010 - $16,500

While the world’s small-scale rural farmers have traditionally been overlooked in global markets, they’re gaining increased access to essential services including financial tools (banking, loans) and IT resources (mobile, internet). At the same time, there has been a global spike in demand for organic, fair-trade products, and small-scale farmers are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunity while at the same time generating employment and income. The challenge for most small-scale farmers is getting their goods to market.

This E-Team is developing the Mobile Information Aggregator (MIA), a mobile application/tool that farmers can use to gain access to global markets. Though a text message on a simple cell phone, the MIA tracks the frequency, quantity of production, and prices that farmers sell via a text message, which then links into a central database system.   The MIA provides historical and real-time data to farming cooperatives so that they can make better business decisions, and will help this E-team to understand what cooperatives are producing and help farmers aggregate demand, connect with markets and increase their income.

Update (2010) 

The team has launched a company, Supply Change, a fair trade, organic fruit company which uses fruit that would otherwise be wasted, processing it into high-value, high-quality products to provide income for farmers and nutritious food for consumers. Individual farmers send their harvest information to their cooperative on a weekly basis via a simple text message. This harvest information is then fed into a central database, producing real-time data that cooperative managers access to make better business decisions to maximize farmers current production, matching supply and market demand. All of this before the food rots and is wasted.



University of Virginia, 2010 - $9,732

The laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder, is one of the most frequent surgeries performed in the United States, with an estimated 922,000 performed annually. Although laparoscopic removal significantly decreases surgical risk and recovery time, difficulties can arise when removing a gallstone-ridden gallbladder through a twelve-millimeter port. An important step in the surgery occurs when the physician puts the gallbladder into a laparoscopic retrieval bag (endobag); gallstones bulge at the bottom of the bag and can become wedged in the removal site.

To solve the problem, this E-Team is designing an endobag that employs cross-linked synthetic fibers nestled between pieces of polyurethane to create a structure similar to a novelty finger trap. When the surgeon pulls up, the contents inside the endobag lineate (form lines) due to the resulting radial force, preventing bulging of the gallbladder during extraction. The device integrates with the current procedure and tools; no new techniques or equipment are necessary.

Leveraged Freedom Chair Indian Trial and Dissemination

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010 - $16,500

This E-Team is developing the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC), a lever-propelled wheelchair designed specifically to meet the mobility needs of people with disabilities in developing countries. Any wheelchair designed for developing countries needs to be both maneuverable in the home and able to travel long distances on rough roads; the LFC meets the requirements with a lever drive train that allows the rider to use mechanical advantage to efficiently traverse virtually any terrain.

The LFC looks like a normal wheelchair, but with tall levers pointing up from the wheels and a bike-like third wheel attached the to axle. Placing your hands high on the levers and pumping them back and forth generates high torque and an effective low gear; placing your hands low on the levers creates high angular velocity in the drivetrain and an effective high gear.

The E-Team will design and test the LFC in partnership with the largest disability organization in the world, the Indian organization Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), Jaipur, also known as Jaipur Foot.


  • CNN features the Freedom Chair (April 2011)
  • The team will produce 200 chairs in June 2012 and have capacity to make 500/month. In a small test of ten users in India, four individuals with LFCs gained employment as a result of their newfound mobility.
  • The team is a finalist for MassChallenge and recently released a new 2-minute video (October 2012)
  • GRIT was one of four $100k Diamond Winners at MassChallenge. Congrats! (October 2012)

Aqua Port Water Transporter

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010 - $17,517

Over one billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, the most basic need for human survival. Within that number, many spend up to eight hours per day walking to the nearest water source, collecting water in heavy buckets, and making the long journey home. According to the UN Millennium Goal Report, forty billion work hours are lost in Africa each year due to time spent transporting water.

This E-Team is developing the Aqua Port, a water transporter that consists of several large plastic cylinders with wheels. The units are threaded onto a horizontal axle and rolled from the water source to the user’s home.

The team is relying heavily on research, testimonials and data from NGO workers, professors, and consumers throughout Africa in designing the device. It fulfills the three major needs they’ve identified for a water transporter: easy to transport, lift, fill, and pour; affordable for people living on less than two dollars per day; and able to transport large amounts of water.


University of California, Berkeley, 2010 - $18,400

Middle-income families in emerging markets around the world would like to have the same hot shower their counterparts in wealthier countries experience every morning. Demand for comfort technologies like water heaters is growing quickly in these markets, but the current options for water heating are either very expensive (tank heaters) or low quality (biomass burning), and all emit significant amounts of carbon. Both the upfront and ongoing energy costs of water heating technologies in, for example, Mexico, make hot water a well-guarded comfort.

The CalSolAgua (CSA) team has developed a low cost solar water heating system capable of reducing energy costs for households in developing countries while also reducing carbon dioxide emissions. CSA’s solar water heater can retail for about $100—one-fourth of the price of competing water tank heaters.

IntelliWheels: The Continuously Variable Transmission for Manually-propelled Wheelchairs

University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, 2010 - $20,000

This E-Team is developing IntelliWheels, an after-market addition to off-the-shelf wheelchairs that significantly decreases the effort it takes to propel manual wheelchairs. IntelliWheels uses a gear shifting system to make pushing a wheelchair easier: the user moves forward, backward, and turns by pushing on the hand rims on either side like normal, but two automatic transmissions continuously change gears to keep the user operating in the most efficient way possible. This happens automatically, without the user thinking about it or needing to do anything.

The team built one prototype already, but it did not perform well. The team is now looking to build on what was learned from the first prototype and continue the development of IntelliWheels into a viable product and business focused on the US market.




Stanford University, 2010 - $20,000

Cardiac pacemakers save lives by restoring and maintaining a normal, safe heart rate for patients with heart rhythm disorders such as bradycardia (a pathologically slow heart rate). But despite their effectiveness, most patients with bradycardia do not need a permanent implanted device because their problem is temporary and reversible: the heart rhythm disruption stems from a procedure or as a side effect of medication. The options for short-term, temporary pacing to overcome bradycardia are, however, flawed: intravenous medications work only for a subset of patients and have limiting side effects; external pacing pads placed on the chest are ineffective and prohibitively painful to the patient. The placement of a temporary pacing electrode through a large vein directly into the heart is the most effective method, but, unfortunately, it is also known to cause potentially fatal complications, including perforation of the heart wall (1-2%) and dislodgement (10-30%).

To meet the need for a safer method of temporarily supporting patients who have or are at risk for bradycardia, this E-Team is developing a temporary pacing system that eliminates the majority of adverse events due either to perforation or dislodgement.


Stanford University, 2010 - $20,000

Over three million US children per year are put under sedation in dental offices. While sedation keeps children calm and still during procedures ranging from cleanings to tooth extractions, it also has potentially fatal consequences. Thirty-three percent of adverse events related to pediatric sedation occur in the dental setting, with 91% of the adverse events resulting in death or permanent neurological injury. Further, 80% of the adverse events involved respiratory problems, since sedatives blunt respiratory drive and relax the upper airway musculature.

This E-Team is developing a device that monitors a child’s breathing while he or she is under the influence of sedatives. The small, wearable, disposable device, called PhonoSafe, alerts the dentist of sub-optimal breathing that lasts longer than fifteen seconds. It consists of a microphone placed on the throat at the level of the trachea to detect breathing sounds, hardware for signal processing to isolate the sounds from ambient noise, and software to analyze the respiratory rate and detect apnea (lack of breathing).

Top 3 March Madness for the Mind Team Videos Announced!!


Student teams participating in the 2010 March Madness for the Mind exhibition created short videos that tell the story of their innovation. These videos were open for public viewing and voting March 8-19, and over 3,000 votes were cast.

The final 3 team videos, as voted by the public are:

The winning team will be announced and awarded $800 on Saturday, March 27 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Missed out on the voting? Watch all the team videos here!


Helping small farmers - A sustainable irrigation system in Peru

The world's food security relies on finding affordable, improved, and effective means of irrigation for small farmers in developing countries.

An NCIIA Sustainable Vision team from University of Massachusetts-Lowell has developed a low-cost solar/wind drip irrigation system, which is being tested in Peru.

Read more about this drip irrigation system at



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