Funding Opportunities

Below is a list of some of the funding opportunities and programs that are available from within UC and outside UC to support entrepreneurship and university-industry research collaborations.

Computer Science Competition

newsletter cover imageThe UCLA Innovation Fund is partnering with Bow Capital and Osage University Partners to launch a campus-wide computer science competition.

Our mission is to assist the further development of early-stage software created at UCLA to the point of startup company formation. First and second place winners will receive investments to support commercialization activities that would not be supported by basic research grants.

First Place Winner: $75,000
Second Place Winner: $50,000

The award will be converted into equity upon company formation through a SAFE agreement. This is an opportunity to receive venture capital investment, which additionally provides business expertise and connections to further accelerate projects to market. In addition, winners will be offered Startup in a Box service provider support and a joint press release.

The competition will consist of an online application with finalists invited to pitch to a panel of judges in front of an audience.

Apply Now

Important Dates

January 2, 2018 - Online Application Opens
March 2, 2018 - Applications Due
March 30, 2018 - Finalists Announced
May 17, 2018 - Pitch Day


  • The lead member of the team should be affiliated with UCLA. Members may be faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students.
  • To accept the funds, all intellectual property must be assigned to UCLA.
  • A newly formed company may be able to license the software using the UCLA CS Express License.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Novelty, significance, and potential impact of the project on a commercial application.
  • Significant market need and opportunity.
  • Competitive advantage over technologies that are currently available or in development.
  • Qualifications of the team.
  • Intellectual property-related aspects of the software.

General Questions & Fund Consultation

For general questions about the process contact Consultations are available, if desired, with the Technology Development Group. These sessions are meant to review ideas, processes, or intellectual property. Available beginning December 1, 2017 through submission process.

Consulting - Technology Development Group:
Tom Lipkin, PhD


Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs award funds to small business entities. UCLA faculty may participate in these projects under certain circumstances. The UCLA SBIR/STTR Guidance Memo for faculty is available at Research Policy and Compliance (RPC) website. A new SBIR/STTR FAQ and Guide published by RPC and OIP-ISR for UCLA researchers is now online. The 2013 SBIR and STTR Grants schedule is posted here.

2018 Biomedical Competition

In order to advance therapeutics, medical devices/diagnostics, and digital health technologies across campus, the UCLA Technology Development Group (TDG), UCLA Health / David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM), UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering & Applied Science (HSSEAS), School of Dentistry (SOD) and the College's Divisions of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences are collaborating to present the UCLA Innovation Fund. This opportunity is open to UCLA faculty from all Schools who have signed the UCLA Patent Policy.

The UCLA Innovation Fund’s goal is to more quickly move technologies from idea to the market, bridging the gap between academia and industry / investor interest. Successful outcomes include, but are not limited to, a 1) license to an existing company; 2) license to a newly created company; 3) finding that a project no longer has technical or commercial potential.

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).

Full Process & Timeline

March 30, 2018: Letter of Intent (LOI) Due (both tracks)
May 1, 2018: Full Applications Invitations Sent (both tracks)
June 1, 2018: Full Applications Due (both tracks)
July 2, 2018: Invitation to Pitch Day: Therapeutics Track
August 1, 2018: Invitation to Pitch Day: MedTech Track
Late September: Pitch Day, Therapeutics Track
Early November: Pitch Day, MedTech Track
January 2019: Earliest Access to Funds

General Questions & Fund Consultation

For general questions about the process contact:

Program Overview

Technological 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

Information Session

You are invited to participate in one of two scheduled QandA sessions to learn more about the UCLA Innovation Fund to support your novel therapeutics, med devices, diagnostics, and digital health technologies. We strongly encourage you to attend one of these sessions if you are interested in submitting a proposal for this program, as there are several differences between this funding mechanism and typical grant sources.

Please RSVP to Rosely Encarnacion at and select participation on either:

March 1, at CNSI in the Executive Conference Room (Rm. 3141, entry level) at 4 pm


March 8, at CHS in room 13-105 at noon (lunch will be served)

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.

2017 Biomedical Awardees

There were three tracks in the 2017 biomedical cycle: Therapeutics, Medical Device or Diagnostics and Digital Health.

Recipients for work in the therapeutics track:

  • Assistant professor of radiology Holden Wu and distinguished professor of chemistry Jeffery Zink were recognized for their work with a novel nanoparticle platform to control where and when cancer drugs are released to fight disease within a patient, with the hope of limiting damage to healthy tissue.
  • Dr. Thomas Carmichael, professor of neurology, and Tatiana Segura, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, were awarded funds for their study of biomaterials for brain repair to aid in stroke recovery.
  • Ren Sun, professor of pharmacology and bioengineering, was honored for his research on rational Influenza vaccine design.
  • William Lowry, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, and associate professor of biological chemistry Heather Cristofk and distinguished professor of chemistry Mike Jung were recognized for their work on stimulating hair growth in hair follicle stem cells.
  • Jung and Dr. Richard Pietras received their award for their study of drug resistance within ER-positive breast cancer.

Recipients for work in the medical devices or diagnostics track:

  • Segura and pediatric surgeon Dr. Nicholas Bernthal were awarded for their work on a novel antimicrobial coating to limit infections associated with orthopedic implants.
  • Mona Jarrahi, professor of electrical engineering, was recognized for her project on terahertz imaging to improve quality control processes for dental patient products
  • Dr. Brian Koos of UCLA Health was honored for his research about non-invasive screening for gestational diabetes in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Professor of cardiology and radiology Dr. Kalyanam Shivkumar and cardiologist Dr. Olcay Aksoy were honored for their progress on the creation of an artificial cord for minimally invasive mitral valve repair in the heart.

Recipients for work in the digital health track:

  • Assistant professor of neurosurgery and orthopedics Dr. Luke Macyszyn and neurological researcher Bilwaj Gaonkar were awarded for their work with computer-aided diagnosis of spinal disease.
  • Computer science researcher Navid Amini and ophthalmologist Dr. Kouros Nouri-Mahdavi were recognized for their project using head-mounted displays to compensate for neurological vision loss and enhance patients’ field of view.
First Look LA Investor Showcase

In collaboration with other LA research institutions, UCLA puts on an annual investor event where our faculty and our startup companies can present technologies to a select group of investors. For more information about attending or presenting, please contact Tom Lipkin.

Knapp Competition

The Anderson School of Management at UCLA runs a business plan competition.

UCLA Ventures

UCLA Ventures is a community of UCLA alumni and friends whose core purpose is to support and promote entrepreneurship at UCLA. The VC Fund mentors faculty and students, fosters the growth of UCLA companies, and connects entrepreneurs with an interest in UCLA. Members have the opportunity to advise campus entrepreneurship initiatives, raise funds for UCLA start-ups, and ultimately to advance UCLA as one of the top entrepreneurial universities in the nation.

ITA Student Entrepreneur Venture Competition

The UCLA Engineering Institute for Technology Advancement runs the Student Entrepreneur Venture Competition.

UCLA BSC Venture Competition

The UCLA Business of Science Annual Venture Competition awards proof of concept funds to scientific, engineering and business teams with innovative medical technologies:

Federal Grants

Targeted federal programs can often be good sources of early stage capital for startup companies. They tend to be thematic (e.g. NIH RAID, NCI RAID for biotech), DARPA (has programs across the board), etc.

Lowell Milken Institute Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs

The $100,000 Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs is a team business plan competition designed to recognize student innovation and support the real-world launch of promising new business ventures. Offering the largest entrepreneurship competition award of any law school with a total of $100,000 in prizes, the Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs is open exclusively to UCLA students.

This competition is for teams with a Startup Business that the team has already started to build or intends to build within the next 12 months. A Startup Business is any proposed business or existing business, for profit, not-for profit, or public benefit. The Startup Business must be a new, independent venture in seed or startup stages. Each team must consist of two to six members and include a current UCLA School of Law 3L or LLM in good standing, or a 2018 UCLA School of Law graduate. Finalists are invited to present their venture idea at the public Final Round event where winners are determined by our Final Round judges.


Please visit the Lowell Milken Institute's website for more information

UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator

The UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator is a six-month immersive program designed to leverage UCLA's resources to enable the success of promising startups within the Anderson community.

Accelerator Homepage