THE SPARK FUND

Funding Northeastern’s transformational technologies

The CRI Spark Fund helps Northeastern researchers bridge the gap between promising lab results and demonstrating a commercially viable prototype. Our grants and programs catalyze state-of-the-art technologies, advancing Northeastern inventions through prototyping, validation, and industry input.

 

THE SPARK FUND

Funding Northeastern’s transformational technologies

The CRI Spark Fund helps Northeastern researchers bridge the gap between promising lab results and demonstrating a commercially viable prototype. Our grants and programs catalyze state-of-the-art technologies, advancing Northeastern inventions through prototyping, validation, and industry input.

 

Meet the fall 2022 Spark Fund Awardees

OVERVIEW

One year,  $50,000 | 5+ awards available

Awards support commercially valuable inventions (from any field) in earlier stages of development.

Spark Fund applicants may apply for up to $50,000 per cycle to advance a technology or suite of technologies towards commercialization. Recipients of past Spark Fund or GapFund360 awards may apply for additional funding up to $150,000 total on a technology or suite of technologies. Prior award recipients must use active award funding for a full year prior to applying again to further advance that technology or suite of technologies towards commercialization. Note, new applicants and past awards recipients applying for funding may only have one active Spark Fund award at a time. While you may apply to advance multiple technologies or suites of technologies through the Spark Fund simultaneously, you will only receive funding to advance one technology or suite of technologies at a time.

Special Awards: 

    • Bouvé College of Health Sciences – Award dedicated to advancing research from the lab of a Bouvé Professor.
    • College of Science – Award dedicated to advancing research from the lab of a COS Professor.
    • College of Engineering – Award dedicated to advancing research from the lab of a COE Assistant Professor.

Spark Fund Uses

Spark Fund grants may be used to advance the commercial prospects of inventions in many different ways, including but not limited to:

Building a commercially ready prototype

Animal testing to generate in vivo data

Optimizing processes for yield, speed, cost

Repurposing tech to meet industry needs

IMPORTANT DATES

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OCTOBER 19, 2022

APPLICATIONS OPEN

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october 31, 2022

EARLY APPLICATIONS CLOSE
Confirmation of eligibility and early application feedback for a more competitive final submission.

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NOVEMBER 23, 2022

GENERAL APPLICATIONS CLOSE

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BEGINNING OF JANUARY, 2023

AWARD ANNOUNCEMENT & FUNDING

ELIGIBILITY

Eligible applicants include Northeastern University Principal Investigators (PIs) with novel, pioneering, and commercially valuable technologies currently in the proof-of-concept stage. All technology must be disclosed to the CRI before applying. At least one Northeastern PI with the duty to assign must either lead or oversee the proposed project. No outside PIs will be allowed. Any prior intellectual property required to implement the technologies must also have been assigned to Northeastern.

Questions about eligibility? Contact Katie Hemphill.

Deliverables

Show me the information needed to apply.

Applications Are Closed

Deliverables

Show me the information needed to apply.

Applications Are Closed

SELECTION CRITERIA

Principal Investigator

  • How well qualified is the PI to oversee and successfully execute the proposed activities?

Team

  • Does the proposing team have the expertise and experience to conduct and successfully execute the proposed activities?

Intellectual Merit

  • Does the proposed activity have the potential to significantly advance the knowledge and understanding within the relevant field of study?

Novelty and Technical Advantages

  • How technically significant are the novel and/or disruptive aspects of the proposed technology compared to the current state of the art?

Market Opportunity

  • Is there a significant market opportunity that could be addressed by the proposed technology?
  • How large is the market for the proposed technology and the current products that are derived from similar technologies?

Commercialization Strategy

  • Does it seem reasonable that this research can be translated into a product or service that will have high commercial success?
  • Does it seem reasonable that the resulting intellectual property (e.g. patents) will be licensable externally?
  • If a future spin-out is contemplated, is a spin-out strategy the best commercialization path for this technology?

Broader Impacts

  • How significant are the potential societal benefits of this technology?

Project Feasibility

  • Is it likely that the project milestones will be achieved within the proposed budget and timeline?
  • Is the project plan reasonable, well-organized, and well-justified?
  • Will the project likely result in an increased Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion?
  • Does the project have access to the required materials, equipment, personnel, compounds, etc.?

Letters of Support

  • How relevant are the letters of support to the proposed project?
  • Are the letters just from academic and technical collaborators, or also commercial and industry sources?
  • How strong are the letters?

Budget

  • Is the budget reasonable?
  • Are the project costs limited to what is deemed reasonable and allowable?

Frequently Asked Questions

Current & Previous AWARDEES

Representing multiple colleges and disciplines, the first cohort of Spark Fund awardees presented diverse and exciting projects to the Center for Research Innovation.

With expert assistance from the Spark Fund strategic advisory board, the CRI carefully evaluated all thirty applicants and selected six research opportunities and ventures to fund and grow.

testimonials

Our experience with both the Spark Fund and the GapFund360 has been simply invaluable. Participating to both initiatives has given us the opportunity to fund those development activities that as researchers we tend to leave “for future studies”… It’s thanks to these initiatives that we were able to take the next step to understand the market value, identify customers, focus on pain points rather than cool features, and work on a product that can attract interest and funding. From a student point of view, I believe that the participation to both the Spark Fund and the GapFund360 has allowed students to gain experience on how to further increase the impact of their research on society by getting involved in technology transfer activities.

 

Tomasso Melodia & Salvatore D’Oro (CellOS)

As a junior faculty, you always need to look out for that one idea, one spark (pun intended) that will make your career…This is when Spark Fund (formerly known as Gap Fund 360) came to the rescue… With the help of CRI, we are now known as thescientific authority in the field, and have published several ground breaking articles on the subject…A common question asked in academic job interview is: “what is it that people will know your research for?”, and when I started my job I would have never imagined it to be scientific machine learning. But today, that will definitely be my answer, and it is all because of the trust that CRI put in my work. So, a huge shoutout to CRI’s leadership and their vision/generosity in supporting young faculty with their ambitious aspirations.

Safa Jamali (Rheopoint)

The GapFund360 and the Spark Fund, both of which have provided me and by extension, my formative companies with critical funding… While the team put in a lot of its own time, the funding, spent principally at Northeastern University was crucial to the acquisition of all of this data. The access to resources that the funding and the imprimatur of approval granted by the funding permitted provide a multiplier of at least 10x. Thus, the Gap Fund’s $50k behaved more like $500k in our hands. This is because of careful use of University resources (i.e. lab equipment, animal facilities and deep discounts on supplies when purchase through NEU) and judicious use of our human resources which I had approved to work at Northeastern.

Jeffrey Ruberti

Fu Lab. Gap funding was instrumental in the formation and early success of AInnovation, which is currently working with ICorps and arranging for Angel funding. According to Prof. Fu, …the gap fund uniquely providesflexible support of grad students or postdoc development in a timely fashion to best leverage our research, development and the commercial promise of our technology.

Raymond Fu (AInnovation/PathFind)

CONTACT

KATIE HEMPHILL

KATIE HEMPHILL

DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY VENTURES & TALENT NETWORK

Center for Research Innovation
(617) 373-7822
[email protected]