(CLOSED) VentureWell Course & Program Grants 2023

Sponsor Name: 
Description of the Award: 

VentureWell Course and Program (C&P) Grants of up to $30,000 are awarded to US higher education institutions to support curriculum to grow and expand the entrepreneurial ecosystem in order to engage students in science and technology (S&T) innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E). Ideally, C&P Grant funding should act as a catalyst for increased entrepreneurial activity and help faculty and universities leverage other opportunities to launch and/or grow their I&E ecosystems.

Please note that there is only one funding cycle for this fiscal year.

C&P grants may be used to strengthen existing curricular programs or to build new, pedagogically inclusive courses and programs that engage student teams in developing and pursuing scalable solutions to real-world needs through S&T I&E. The end goal is to support diverse groups of faculty, staff, and students in collaborating to develop novel inventions and technologies that have positive environmental and social impact.

Activities supported by C&P grants should lead to effective courses and programs that are sustained by the institution, lead to the formation of student teams by leveraging experiential learning practices, and expand opportunities for learning across S&T I&E.

C&P grant proposals may include plans to create or improve an individual course, course sequence, minor, major, certificate program, or other co- and extracurricular programs that are directly tied to and support I&E-focused curriculum. S&T focus area may include, but are not limited to:

  • General (science- and technology-based) entrepreneurship
  • Sustainable technologies (new materials, clean tech, green energy and chemistry innovation)
  • Climate change solutions (technology to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change), especially technologies that support communities most impacted by climate change
  • Biomedical and healthcare innovation
  • Technologies that address poverty alleviation and basic human needs

To advance our organizational commitment to advancing equity, VentureWell has made diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority on ALL of our faculty grants. Successful VentureWell C&P grantees must make clear how funding will increase access and broaden the participation of traditionally underrepresented, underestimated, and under-resourced groups, specifically those who identify as Black, Latinx, and Indigenous, women from all backgrounds, individuals who identify as coming from low-income backgrounds, and others who are marginalized due to racism, sexism, classism, and/or other forms of marginalization (referenced throughout this document as URGs; see definitions in Appendix). We especially encourage faculty and staff applicants from URGs or from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Tribal Colleges, Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions, etc., and other institutions that demonstrate clear support for students from URGs in S&T I&E.

Institutional Limitations

Current VentureWell member institutions are Penn State-University Park, Penn State Berks, Penn State Behrend, and Penn State Great Valley. For information on on your campus becoming a member see: https://venturewell.org/membership/. Membership in VentureWell’s network of higher-education institutions is currently available at no cost.

Characteristics of Successful Proposals

VentureWell C&P grants are competitive. Course & Program grant applications should address all criteria below and will be evaluated on these criteria in order of importance:

  • Educational Approach and Experience: The proposal describes curriculum that includes:
    • Student team-based learning, preferably multi-disciplinary
    • Experiential learning and entrepreneurship
    • Science and technology projects that have a strong focus and positive, enduring impact on society, and/or the environment
    • Innovative thinking and problem-solving
    • Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the student experience
    • A faculty PI, teaching team, mentors, partners, advisors, and/or external consultants and resources that have the disciplinary/domain expertise necessary to oversee, advise, and support the project
  • Strengthening the Institutional I&E Ecosystem: The proposal describes:
    • Meaningful connections to the entrepreneurial ecosystem (faculty, colleges, departments, centers) that can support student entrepreneurship
    • How the course/program will contribute to entrepreneurial ecosystem development
  • Catalyzing Institutional Growth: The proposal describes:
    • Multiple leaders, administrators, and/or partners that support program objectives
    • A complete and realistic plan for how the course or program will be financially sustained beyond the grant period
    • How grant funding could be a catalyst to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem

Examples of projects that are NOT strong candidates for C&P grant funding include:

  • Courses or programs that do not directly encourage development of innovations and technologies that have a positive environmental and social impact.
  • Courses or programs that do not lead to the creation of student teams.
  • Pure research or single project courses (i.e. where there is no student team ownership or commercialization plan for the innovation/venture).
  • Courses or programs that are unlikely to continue beyond the grant period.
  • Existing courses or programs where there is little change or improvement proposed (i.e., ongoing support requests).
  • Proposals that focus solely on extracurricular activities (e.g. hack-a-thons, business plan competitions, etc.) without a clearly stated connection to existing curriculum or other coursework.
  • Courses or programs that are disconnected from other campus and community-based resources (i.e., without a description of how the course/program is part of a larger plan for entrepreneurial ecosystem development).
  • Proposals that do not demonstrate support for the most promising technologies and teams to move beyond the classroom, lab, or club.
  • Proposals that do not include a plan to address both supporting diversity and inclusion, and environmental and social sustainability in S&T I&E.

For more information, please view the VentureWell guidelines.


Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Nov 02, 2022
OSVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should send the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_VentureWell_2022 no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

  • Cover Page:
    • Proposal Title
    • Principal Investigator’s (PI's) names and departmental affiliation
    • Co-PI's names and departmental affiliation(s)
    • A list of possible participating organizations (if applicable)
  • Proposed Initiative (2-3 pages):
    • The more SPECIFIC, CLEAR and COMPELLING your narrative is, the more competitive your proposal will be. Tell the reviewers a story: what currently exists, where are the gaps, what are you proposing to create and what are the hoped-for outcomes? In other words, why this idea now?
    • Differentiate between what already exists vs. what you are asking for funding to support. Emphasis should be placed on what you are proposing, however, it is important to briefly share what already exists to support I&E on your campus (e.g. institutional resources, personnel support, makerspaces, competitions, etc.).
    • Describe the project’s potential for positive educational, environmental, and social impact.
    • Who is/are your target audience(s)? How will your work support student innovators from URGs in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. As part of the narrative, include a specific plan that articulates how you will broaden participation in your course/program by answering the following questions:
    • How will you market to and recruit students from URGs to participate in the proposed course/program?
    • How will you recruit mentors that will reflect the URGs of student participants?
    • How will you mentor students to ensure inclusivity?
    • How will you create an inclusive curriculum? How else will you support these students’ success in I&E?
    • How will you measure success? (Share metrics.)
    • Explain the process: How will the proposed course or program lead to the creation of student teams? How will teams be formed? Where will the S&T ideas come from?
    • Describe the experiential learning opportunity for students.
    • How will your entrepreneurship ecosystem support the most promising teams and technologies towards commercialization?
  • Letter of Support from Department Head/Chair:
    • Letter of support should indicate that there is ongoing institutional support for your project. A more extensive letter would be required with your external application.
  • If resubmission to Venturewell, one page explaining changes to your initiative that respond to feedback from VentureWell submission

Formatting Guidelines:

  • Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
  • Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)
To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OSVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Thursday, September 22, 2022 - 4:00pm
For help or questions: 

The Office of Foundation Relations is the designated institutional contact responsible for communicating with the Foundation and is collaborating with OSVPR on the internal downselect process. Questions concerning the application process and other foundation-related questions should be directed to Jara Dorsey-Lash, Associate Director, Foundation Relations (jed72@psu.edu).