The Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) is Cornell University's technology transfer office. We manage technology for Cornell's Ithaca campus, Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell Tech, and Cornell AgriTech in Geneva.

Ignite Program Logo




In an academic research environment, gap funding addresses promising technologies and innovations that may have great commercial potential, however, are perceived to be “too early” for licensing or investment by providing critical project funding to help validate the innovation and reduce risk. IGNITE- Cornell Research Gap Funding Program is supported by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (“OVPR”) with funding from operation budget and also generous donations. The goal of the IGNITE program is to accelerate and advance technologies in Cornell research labs and startup companies to their next inflection point on their development and commercialization path to societal benefit.


IGNITE is Cornell Research’s next generation funding program based on its original gap fund, the Cornell Technology Acceleration and Maturation (CTAM) Fund launched by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) in 2013. With over 30 projects funded in its first 5 years, completed projects have gone on to raise $34 for every $1 funded in further research grants/gifts, corporate sponsored research and venture investment. Achieving a total impact of over $30.3M.


The IGNITE program builds on CTAM’s success both with additional support from the university and by tailoring its funding options for our research labs and startups while opening up the opportunities for our corporate collaborators to seed and explore lasting research relationships with Cornell faculty. While unique in their application, all three programs operate with common goals:

  • Aim to increase value by enabling projects with clear results that lead to and justify further engagement and development from investors, corporate research partners or, at times, grant funding agencies.
  • Accelerated technology protection, licensing, venture creation/investment and/or corporate research collaboration.
  • Aim to reduce risk via validation of a prototype, beta-testing, data generation and analysis, validation demonstrations, market research and business plan refinement.

The three IGNITE program options are:


IGNITE:Research Acceleration


Research grants up to $50,000 per project to accelerate active CTL inventions from the Ithaca, Geneva, or Cornell Tech campuses towards commercialization. Applications are received twice per year via a Spring and Fall cycle. Each application is reviewed for alignment, and those that move forward receive external reviews and present to a review board.


Applications Open
Deadline: November 9, 2020


Info Sessions
Two virtual info sessions will be held on

  • October 9, 2020 from 12 PM to 1 PM (register to the info Session 1 here) and on
  • October 23, 2020 from 12 PM to 1 PM (Register to the info Session 2 here).



IGNITE:Startup Projects


Up to $50,000 in project funding via a convertible note for all active CTL Startup Licensees from Ithaca, Geneva or Cornell Tech campuses; and/or members of Praxis, McGovern, REV and the PostDoc Runway program at Cornell Tech. Applications are received via the CTL website on an open, rolling basis. Applications are reviewed for alignment, receives votes from external reviewers evaluating the project and company, those selected to move forward present to a review board.


Applications will be open in 2021



IGNITE:Partnership Development


Project opportunities and amounts available will be defined in cooperation with corporate partners seeking to establish research relationships with Cornell. Calls for projects will be offered on an as-available basis and will likely be aligned a targeted theme or issue. Application review and awards will be completed by a committee assembled for the purpose whose structure will be communicated prior.


Closed campaigns

  • Cargill Idea Solicitation



IGNITE:Research Acceleration – Program Overview


Project funding up to $50,000 is available for research-lab projects with a preferred timeline of 12 months. Funding is provided in the form of a project-specific grant with no “pay back” requirement. Projects that best align with the goals of the program have the greatest chances to be awarded funding. Applications are accepted twice per year from eligible candidates who are invited to present to the IGNITE review board, projects selected for funding provide ongoing updates and a final report.



  • Applications are welcomed from faculty, research staff and/or graduate students with Cornell innovations from Cornell’s Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses,
  • Technologies used in the application have been disclosed to the Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University (CTL),
  • Previously funded CTAM or IGNITE projects are eligible for additional funding when justified,
  • Only one application from an eligible PI or faculty research lab will be considered per Cycle,
  • The WCM campus has a separate funding program for technologies originated from the WCM campus; and projects that are eligible for funding under the Daedalus Program are not eligible for IGNITE funding (,
  • All proposed projects must comply with university policies.


Applications: Applications are accepted during one of two cycles per year held in the Spring and Fall. Communications regarding the application cycle are coordinated by CTL who also offers information sessions throughout the open application period. Applications may be submitted through the CTL website via the InfoReady software platform.

Ignite Flow Chart #1

The simple, online application form requests summaries of the following information:

  • A brief overview of the underpinning technology,
  • Its scientific/technical merit,
  • Summary of the target market
  • The intellectual property status
  • The proposed activities to be funded
  • Specific deliverables from such activities
  • The project budget (*) and timelines
  • Other Cornell funding applied for
  • A description of how the project will bridge the translation gap/reach the next inflection point for commercialization and/or venture creation. A summary of follow-on funding interest, opportunity or potential from any of the following – corporate sponsored research, grant-funded research, and research gift or startup investment.


The respective Licensing and Business Development Officer (LBDO) is available as a resource to provide assistance, feedback and suggestions on your application. The LBDO also is a source of perspective and feedback to the selection board.


Please direct any questions regarding issues with the InfoReady platform or the application submission process to Lynda Inseque, MS, Corporate Outreach & Engagement Manage, Phone: (607) 254-454,


Application Guidelines and Considerations: Funded project activities typically include prototyping, beta-testing, data generation and analysis, validation demonstrations, market research and business plan refinement.


Role of the PI:

  • Preparing and submitting IGNITE Project applications;
  • Presenting to the IGNITE Committee to support project selection;
  • Managing approved funds and their associated budgets;
  • Submitting all required project progress and final reports outlining the delivered versus proposed results;
  • At the invitation of CTL, presenting the project at meetings or showcase events.


Up to 50% of an IGNITE grant amount can be used to support salaries. The grant should not be used for tuition purposes.


Project proposals that target significant and specific milestones achievable within 12 months are preferred.


All proposals, unless specified otherwise, will be submitted to external industry experts who will provide feedback to the IGNITE Board. Please note, external experts are NOT under any obligation of confidentiality. It is preferred that applications do not contain confidential information. Please consult with your respective LBDO at CTL for assistance identifying any confidential information. If confidential information is necessary, please select “Yes” when prompted “This application contains confidential information” during the application process.


All proposed projects must apply with University Policies.


Application Review and Award process:

  1. All applications will be reviewed and organized by CTL for compliance with the eligibility criteria identified above and completeness. Noncompliant or incomplete applications will be returned to the submitters. The presence of any confidential information will be confirmed and complying, non-confidential applications will be submitted for external review.
  2. A maximum of 12 compliant proposals will be referred by CTL to at least one or more external industry expert who are experienced technology industrialists, early stage venture investors and/or managers of early stage ventures. Experts are comprised of Cornell alumni, active investors, and regional business executives with the proper domain expertise who volunteer their services to the program.
  3. Feedback via the external reviews will be collected and provided to the Review Board. This feedback is based on their informed view on the likelihood that investment, third party licensing, strategic partnership and/or broad public utilization will be enhanced from the proposed activities for IGNITE support.
  4. A review board comprised of: Executive Director, CTL; Director Kevin M. McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences; Administrative Academic Director, Praxis Center for Venture Development; Innovation Partnerships Director, CTL; and three external appointees. Will organize a meeting where 12 invited applicants will be allocated a predetermined amount of time for a presentation of the proposed project. Additional time will be allocated for Q&A with the review board.
  5. Based on the submitted proposal, presentation and feedback from external reviews, the review board will reach the final funding disposition decision and amount. Assuming no awards pending additional questions from the board, notification of the funding decision will be made shortly following the Review Board meeting to applicants via email and via the InfoReady platform.

Presentation of the proposed project: The invited applicants will be allocated a predetermined amount of time (less than 20 minutes) for a presentation that addresses the following:

  1. Project Title, Key Team, Amount Requested, Project Period.
  2. Brief Summary of the Technology Proposed
  3. Market Needs Addressed
  4. Current Status and Specific Needs to be addressed
  5. Anticipated Impact of Proposed Project in the form of follow-on funding for Commercialization/Investment

Funding and Project Launch: After notice of funding approval for funding, CTL will coordinate the distribution the awarded amount (of up to $50,000 per proposal) to the PI’s research account. The recipient’s finance department will establish a project account for the funded proposal into which the authorized funds for the IGNITE Project would be disbursed by OVPR’s Finance Office.


Please share any significant changes to the project budget or timing with CTL who will either approve or, as necessary, submit to the Review Board for approval.


All project accounts will automatically close at the earlier of (i) the exhaustion of the approved project fund; or (ii) the expiration of the proposed project timeframe. Any remaining funds from closed project accounts will be returned to the IGNITE program account for future deployment.


Reporting: As Projects are implemented, the PI’s are responsible for providing a brief (1-page maximum) progress report at mid-term period.


Within 1 month of the close of the IGNITE project, the PI is required to submit a final report to CTL (3 page maximum) The report should compare the actual vs. proposed expenditures, achievements relative to expectations, and detail any next opportunities, planned or realized, for follow-on funding including research gifts, grants, corporate sponsored research, investment funding.


Funding alumni are also required to provide updates to periodical requests from CTL on the progress of the technology towards commercialization as well as any follow-on funding success. Funding is tracked through the alumni’s Series A financing round.


Awarded applicants may be invited to present at a showcase event or similar to highlight the development of the technology under IGNITE project funding.

Ignite Flow Chart #2