UCLA Innovation Fund

Innovation Fund Graphic


Funded Projects Receive up to $200K Apply Now!

                  Dr SooHoo        Pitch Day Sign        Pitch Day Friends

In collaboration with UCLA Health, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering & Applied Science, School of Dentistry and UCLA’s Divisions of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences, the UCLA Technology Development group is proud to present the UCLA Innovation Fund.

Focusing on advanced therapeutics, medical devices/diagnostics, and digital health technologies, the UCLA Innovation Fund speeds technologies from idea to market, bridging the funding gap between academia and industry. Up to $200K is awarded per project to support commercialization activities not supported by basic research grants.

Apply Today! Please submit as many of your projects that qualify.

Importantly, this is not a traditional research award. Funding will be used to advance a project along to reach a key project-specific milestone, further enabling these technologies to be licensed to an existing company or a startup. These funds are to support commercialization activities that would not be supported by basic research grants. There is a three-step application process, which requires a Letter of Intent, Full Application (by invitation only), and a Pitch Presentation (by invitation only).


This opportunity is open to UCLA faculty from all Schools who have signed the UCLA Patent Policy.

March 1, 2020 Letter of Intent DUE by 11:59pm: Therapeutics Track
April 9, 2020 Letter of Intent DUE by 11:59pm: MedTech Track
April 1, 2020 Invitation to Submit Full Application: Therapeutics Track
May 1, 2020 Invitation to Submit Full Application: MedTech Track
May 1, 2020 Full Applications Due: Therapeutics Track
June 1, 2020 Full Applications Due: MedTech Track
July 1, 2020 Invitation to Pitch Day: Therapeutics Track
August 3, 2020 Invitation to Pitch Day: MedTech Track
October 2020 Pitch Day: Therapeutics Track
November 2020 Pitch Day: MedTech Track
January 2021 Earliest Access to Funds


Program Details

Technology Tracks

Technologies will be separated into two tracks: Therapeutics and MedTech. The MedTech track comprises medical device, diagnostic, and digital health projects. Full applications will be reviewed by both an academic panel to evaluate scientific merit and a business review panel to assess commercial potential. Applications with high scores for both technical and business merit will advance to a pitch presentation where an external advisory committee comprised of industry executives, investors, and serial entrepreneurs will be assembled for each track. Inventors will pitch, and the UCLA Innovation Fund will identify fundable projects, articulate key development steps to conduct, and lend additional technical and business insight. 

Project Management

In addition to funding, TDG will provide project management resources and utilize consultants and Entrepreneurs in Residence to help advance the projects. Aided by the inventors, each Project Manager will be help create a milestone-driven project plan, timeline, and budget. Funding is contingent on meeting these predetermined milestones.


Applications are open to Principal Investigators (PIs) across campus, regardless of their departmental affiliation. We expect many collaborative projects between research groups on campus. Proposal budgets are required to be as capital efficient as possible, and are dependent on meeting project-specific milestones. Funding may range up to $200,000 per project. Please keep in mind that the UCLA Innovation Fund is not a typical block grant or award, and funds are available in a different manner from which you may be accustomed:

  • Funds are not transferred en bloc, but are instead tied to specific milestones
  • Annotation of milestones is informed by, but not limited to, inventor experience, outside industry / investor / consultant opinion, logistical limitations (e.g., budget, timeline)
  • Money will be released based on following the work plan, meeting milestones, and achieving results; If a project fails to meet a certain milestone, the remainder of funding may be withheld
  • Funds are unrestricted and may be used for both internal project development and for outside vendors/consultants/contractors; By policy, however, the UCLA Innovation Fund cannot directly support faculty compensation
  • There is no explicit start or end date for use of funds. It has historically taken 1-3 months before selected projects have access to the funds as we align on milestones
  • If it becomes apparent that a technology will become licensed, or that a technology likely no longer has market potential, the UCLA Innovation Fund reserves the right to halt financial support

General Eligibility

  • The lead PI must be a UCLA faculty member in the Regular Professor, In-Residence Professor, Clinical X Professor, or Health Sciences Clinical Professor series in the DGSOM, HSSEAS, Life Sciences, etc.; applications from highly independent and accomplished faculty in the Adjunct Professor and Researcher series may also be considered
  • The lead PI on each application must hold a primary appointment on the UCLA campus, in that their extramural grant applications must typically be submitted through the UCLA Office of Contract and Grant Administration
  • Project teams may include non-faculty positions (e.g., graduate students, postdocs, staff, nurses, etc.) that sign the UC Patent Policy
  • The underlying IP should vest with UCLA (the Regents) only; all members of the team need to have signed the UC Patent Acknowledgement
  • Technologies that have been licensed out to a third party (e.g., startup, existing company, etc.) or are in active licensing negotiations are not eligible for UCLA Innovation Fund support, as the UCLA Innovation Fund aims to support technologies that have not yet successfully reached a value inflection point

Please Note:

The PI(s) must be present for the Pitch Day, which is the final round of the competition.  PI(s) will give a ~15 minute slide presentation that identifies the problem being addressed, how the technology works, why the technology is superior to alternatives, and what the development path forward looks like.  There will be an additional ~15 minutes available for Q&A.  This will be in a closed-door session attended by the UCLA Innovation Fund and the UCLA Innovation Fund Advisory Panel.  Other applicants will not be present.  See below for additional information on Pitch Day preparation.

General Evaluation Criteria:

  • Novelty, significance, and potential impact of the project on a commercial application
  • Significant market need and opportunity
  • Competitive advantage over technologies currently available or in development
  • Qualifications of the PI, Co-PIs, and Co-Investigators
  • Current activity by the PI(s) on the proposed project
  • Strength of the preliminary data / proof of concept and development plan
  • Status of the intellectual property

​Please note: 

  • Applications that are primarily for equipment purchases are not suitable for this funding mechanism
  • Applications should not propose work that has already been funded though other grant or funding mechanisms
  • Applications should not propose work for which it would be typical to obtain grant support from governmental agencies
  • Non-faculty personnel costs will be considered, but it is strongly preferred that personnel are already funded

Letter of Intent Instructions

The Letter of Intent application will ask for the following information

  • Describe your technology (scientific and technical elements) ( <250 words)
  • Describe the intended disease area(s) and patient population(s) (For early therapeutic projects this is not required, but strongly recommended)
  • Describe the current standard of care for the intended disease area(s) and patient population(s) (For early therapeutic projects this is not required, but strongly recommended)
  • Explain why/how this technology will be adopted over the standard of care (<150 words)
  • If applicable, list your top 3 competitors addressing the space you are seeking to enter.  Summarize your competitive advantage
  • Describe stage of development of your technology (for therapeutics: e.g., target validation, assay development for screening, hit identification, lead optimization, etc.)
  • Total funding to-date for this technology ($ amount)
  • When do you expect these funds to run out?
  • Is the intellectual property already disclosed to UCLA? If so, what is the case number?
  • Was any intellectual property generated outside of UCLA? If so, please describe
  • Please list all of your past, current and future funding sources for this technology
  • If you have outside funding sources / partnerships, are there any IP obligations that you’re aware of?
  • Please list all of your past, current and future sources of materials for this project

You will be able to save your information on the application form and revisit it later to complete.

General Questions & Fund Consultation

Consultation Hours

UCLA Innovation Fund Committee Members will be available for drop-in office hours during the month of March.  Our team is available to answer Innovation Fund related questions surrounding competition eligibility, the application process, and working with the UCLA Innovation Fund if selected. There are many differences between this funding mechanism and typical grant sources, so we encourage applicants to take advantage and contact us.