Faculty New Venture Assistance Fund

Faculty New Venture Assistance Fund

We are pleased to remind faculty and staff members that they are welcome to apply for funding from the Faculty New Venture Assistance Fund (“Fund”). The Fund was created in 2016, as a direct recommendation of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee (“PEAC”), to provide support to Faculty and Staff considering a startup company (including a nonprofit) as a mechanism for translating their academic research into products or services with societal benefit.

This Fund is distinct from, but synergistic with, the IP Accelerator Fund, a proof-of-concept research fund managed by the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) since 2011. The receipt of an award from the IP Accelerator is, however, in no way a prerequisite for applying to this Fund.  

The Fund can provide support for the entrepreneurial activities of Princeton faculty and staff in a number of areas key to successful new venture formation, such as market research and analysis, business plan writing, team building, financial or legal administration, and now software development. Since its inception, the Fund has supported more than 40 separate projects with over $500,000 in grants. More than half of these projects have gone on to become operating, externally funded start-up companies.

Current faculty or staff members who are considering launching a new company around a technology or innovation developed at, owned by, and formally disclosed to Princeton can work with the OTL staff to submit a two-to-three page executive summary and a budget describing the proposed activity or engagement that will enhance the development of a technology/invention previously disclosed to the OTL.  The executive summary should describe how the funds will be utilized to help start a new venture that is built around deep understanding of target applications and has a realistic pathway to secure external investment or grant funding, and ultimately deliver new products and services with societal benefit.

Individual awards can provide up to $15,000, of which no more than $10,000 can be for legal expenses. Awards may cover external consultants, professional service providers and administrative costs associated with startup formation – but may not be used to cover the salaries of researchers, equipment, or any other research expenses.  All award expenditures are administered through an OTL account and must be consistent with Princeton’s policies and its commitment to the advancement, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge.    

In general, examples of activities appropriate for the Fund include:

  • Engaging startup service providers such as accountants, insurance and legal services
  • Engaging industry experts to conduct market research and analysis
  • Engaging expert external resources in executive summary, investment pitch and business plan development
  • Recruitment of domain experts to provide subject matter expertise in specific sectors of interest
  • Finding and retaining managers and mentors to support or drive spinouts at the right time
  • Engaging prospective management personnel to undertake one or more business development   related tasks on a consulting basis  
  • Attending workshops, forums and boot camps to give entrepreneurial researchers a chance to broaden their education

All proposals that involve entrepreneurial activities other than technical research, that can facilitate new venture creation, will be carefully considered, so long as they are based on a University-owned innovation. All proposed external service providers must be approved by the University.  

Software Development

The Fund is now being expanded to include support services for entrepreneurial Faculty and Staff in the creation of software or web-based enterprises. Many researchers have developed innovative software tools, data driven applications or website concepts as part of their work at Princeton, and have the necessary expertise to build out a functional academic version on University infrastructure; but in order to build a version that has all the necessary utility and is sufficiently professional in appearance that they can use it to attract outside interest and funding to support further development, they typically need to either engage technical software and systems architecture experts or devote significant time and energy themselves. Now, for software inventions that have been developed at, are owned by, and have been formally disclosed to Princeton, they may apply for a Faculty New Venture Assistance Fund award to cover the costs of engaging an external software development expert, up to a maximum award of $25,000. The process for submission and review shall be the same as for other ventures supported by the Fund.

Social Enterprises

Although the Faculty New Ventures Assistance Fund supports the development of new ventures that are building around University-owned IP, it is also recognized that some University researchers, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, may be launching new social enterprises around innovations and ideas developed at Princeton for which any form of formal intellectual property protection may not be necessary or appropriate. The Fund is therefore now being expanded to provide up to three (3) awards each year to Princeton researchers building nonprofits that do not utilize IP disclosed to or owned by the University.

To be eligible for this funding, current faculty or staff members must be intending to start a nonprofit corporation to advance ideas or concepts arising from their academic research at Princeton. The process for submission and review, and the types of expenses that are appropriate for reimbursement, shall be the same as for other ventures supported by the Fund. As with those ventures, individual awards can provide up to $15,000, of which no more than $10,000 can be for legal expenses.

The Fund is operated on a rolling basis, with each proposal being evaluated as it is received, and awards are made throughout the year based on a criteria that include the potential of the technology, likelihood of successful new venture creation, how the proposed activity will enhance that probability of success and the potential of that new venture to positively benefit society and/or the local innovation ecosystem. Proposals are reviewed by the staff at the Office of Technology Licensing, supplemented as necessary by outside expertise, and recommended to the Dean for Research for final approval.  

Faculty and Staff are encouraged to discuss proposal ideas with the OTL prior to submission.  Proposals should be submitted electronically to Tony Williams, New Ventures Associate, Office of Technology Licensing, [email protected].  Each proposal will receive a prompt acknowledgement as assurance that it has been properly received.