The IGNITE Program is funded in part through a generous gift from Peggy J. Koenig ’78.
IGNITE:Startup Projects – Program Overview
Up to $50,000 in project funding via a SAFE 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. Projects that best align with the goals of the program have the greatest chances to be awarded funding. Applications are reviewed for alignment, receive feedback from external reviewers evaluating the project and company, and are invited to present to a review board.
- Applications are welcomed from startup companies with licenses to Cornell innovations from Cornell’s Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses or companies who are members of Praxis, McGovern, REV and the PostDoc Runway program at Cornell Tech.
- Startup companies are expected to be pre-Series A financing. If your company has already raised Series A financing, please contact CTL, your LBDO or your qualifying program’s director to determine eligibility.
- Previously funded IGNITE:Research Acceleration projects are eligible for IGNITE:Startup Projects, but not previous funded Startup Projects.
- Startups originating from the WCM campus have separate funding programs and thus are not eligible for the IGNITE program.
- Applicant should be in “Inc.” not “LLC” structure.
- All proposed projects must comply with university policies
Applications are received on an open, rolling basis through the CTL website via the InfoReady software platform. Applications are reviewed for alignment, receive feedback from external reviewers evaluating the project and company, and are invited to present to a review board.
The simple, online application form requests summaries of the following information:
- A brief overview of the underpinning technology
- Its scientific/technical merit
- A financial overview of the company with investment information
- 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 funding applied for
- A support letter from the Licensing and Business Development Officer (LBDO) or your respective qualifying program director
- A description of how the project will bridge a key gap for the company helping it reach the next inflection point for commercialization and/or venture development.
The respective Licensing and Business Development Officer (LBDO) or your respective qualifying program director is available as a resource to provide assistance, feedback and suggestions on your application. The LBDO or respective program director may also be a source of perspective and feedback to the review board.
Application Guidelines and Considerations:
Funded project activities typically include prototyping, beta-testing, data generation and analysis, validation demonstrations, and market research. Role of the Startup PI:
- Preparing and submitting IGNITE Project applications;
- Presenting to the IGNITE Review Board 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 award amount can be used to support salaries.
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 and investment experts who will provide feedback on whether the company should advance to further consideration. Please note, external experts, like many investors, are NOT under any obligation of confidentiality. It is preferred that applications do not contain confidential information. If confidential information is necessary, please select “Yes” when prompted “This application contains confidential information” during the application process, and a member of the CTL team will follow up with you on the next steps.
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 reviews.
2) Compliant and eligible proposals referred by CTL to at least two external industry and investment experts who are experienced technology industrialists, early-stage venture investors, and/or managers of early-stage ventures. The external reviewers evaluate proposals based on the likelihood that the proposed project will succeed, that the company presents a sound investment, and the company’s chances for success be enhanced.
3) 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; Director of Runway and Spinouts, one or two invited external appointees with domain expertise for the specific application. The review board will organize a meeting where the applicants will present the proposed project. Additional time will be allocated for Q&A with the review board.
External appointees are comprised of Cornell alumni, active investors, and regional business executives with the proper domain expertise who volunteer their services to the program.
4) Based on the submitted proposal, presentation, and supporting feedback from external reviews, the review board will reach the final funding disposition decision and amount. The Director of the incubator program where the startup resides will not be a voting member for the specific company. 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 for a presentation that addresses the following:
- Project Title, Key Team, Amount Requested, Project Period
- Brief Summary of the Technology or Proposed Project
- Brief overview of the Company, investors and plans
- Market Needs Addressed
- Current Status and Specific Needs to be addressed
- Anticipated Impact of Proposed Project on the company
Funding and Project Launch:
After notice of funding approval for funding, CTL will prepare and provide the SAFE note for review and signature. Upon full execution of the note, CTL will coordinate the distribution of the awarded amount (of up to $50,000 per proposal) via wire transfer to the Startup PI’s company.
The SAFE note is non-negotiable and is available for review prior to application if desired. Please contact the CTL IGNITE program manager.
Startup PI’s are responsible to 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.
As Projects are implemented, the Startup 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 Startup PI is required to submit a final report to CTL (three-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.
Applications are now being accepted for IGNITE:Startup Project and are welcome on a rolling basis.
Presentation Day: 1 hour-presentation will be scheduled by CTL team a month after your application
Apply through the InfoReady platform https://cornell.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1840979