How It Works


First Things First: Attend an Informational Session

The first step to obtain our pre-seed funding is to attend a free Innovation Fund 101 Information Session conducted by our team. This is required in order to qualify for funding. Join us as we explain the application process and learn:

  • Ecosystem resources
  • Process and timeline for applying
  • Qualifications to apply
  • How applications are evaluated
  • Tips for presenting

Sign Up for an Info Session:


Apply and Learn


It’s no secret that many entrepreneurs apply to the Innovation Fund a few times before securing pre-seed funding. This is beneficial as they learn something new about their business each time. Any applicant who isn’t ready for funding is partnered with a regional entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) to help them adjust their business idea and re-apply. Entrepreneurs report that applying for our awards is time well spent regardless of the outcome because their business gets better with each application.

That’s just the start — here’s why our process is unique:
  • Even if you don’t secure funding, you gain useful tools and feedback for your business
  • We always accept applications — you never have to “know someone” to apply
  • Our regional EIRs will help you craft your presentation materials and pitch
  • Our experts will help you complete the required financial workbook

Accept Friendly Funding


Innovation Fund is the first place entrepreneurs go for pre-seed funding because our capital is geared toward their needs. We’re a safe starting point for anyone with an innovative technology or business idea. The most promising startups secure entrepreneur-friendly funding to complete a specific project.

Here’s why our pre-seed funding is different from other solutions:
    • We’re very early stage and take more risk on startups than other funds
    • We require companies to match their awards dollar-for-dollar
    • If you don’t succeed, you’re not required to repay the award


Set & Reach Milestones


Every company that receives funding will need to set initial goals and benchmarks. The dissemination of money is tied to those milestones within the project; this is one of the main ways we help companies use relatively small investments to make a big impact. We also require each award to be matched dollar for dollar, doubling the impact the Innovation Fund award can have on a startup’s growth.

Our milestone approach is different because:
  • Our network of resources will help you set your goals
  • Your milestones will be achievable so you can keep receiving funding
  • Our team will help you use your funding in the most impactful ways

Raise More and Give Back

give back

What does success look like as an Innovation Fund portfolio company? When an entrepreneur ends a project, they should have moved their technology closer to commercialization and prepared their company to raise more money. If the entrepreneur received an “A” award, they should be ready to apply for a “B” award. If they received a “B” award, they should be ready to raise a Series A from angel and venture capital investors. Helping a company move from one level of successful funding to another level is what the Innovation Fund is all about!

Helping others succeed is also at the heart of the Innovation Fund experience. That’s why we require all entrepreneurs to give back by taking on student help and participating in educational activities. We call it Entrepreneurship Experiential Education, and it helps create enhanced educational opportunities for students and faculty to bridge the gap between classroom instruction and the real world. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of the Innovation Fund.

Why being an Innovation portfolio company is different:
  • Entrepreneurs use their money to move closer to commercialization
  • Our process makes entrepreneurs’ companies more attractive to investors
  • Entrepreneurs help students learn about being an entrepreneur