Penn Wharton Innovation Fund

Applications for the 2018-2019 academic year are closed. Applications for the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund will reopen in Fall 2019. See below for info about the selection process, criteria, and deadlines.

Please note that the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund is open to currently enrolled students pursuing a degree-granting program at the University of Pennsylvania.

There are 3 different award levels based upon your venture development stage:

  • Validation: $250
  • Implementation: $1000
  • Launch: $5000

Questions? Contact Jill Anick

The Penn Wharton Innovation Fund exists to fund creative and meaningfully innovative ventures from the Penn student community. Alberto Vitale WG’59, who endowed the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund, hopes that it will be “a catalyst to stimulate innovation at the School and to surface the brainpower of its students.” All funding decisions are made by our Investment Team.

PWIF Details

Eligibility & Rules

  • All applicants for the fund must be a Founding member of the team. The team leader must be a founder, and a currently enrolled student in a degree-pursuing program at Penn.
  • Both Nonprofits and For Profits are eligible.
  • The venture must be a new venture/new business. Ventures that were started before a team member enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania are not eligible.
  • All submitted materials must be the original work of the participating team. By submitting an application, a team and each of its individual members warrants that they do not infringe on any proprietary or other right of others.
  • Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship uses Fluid Review as the application platform for all programs and awards. By applying to any of the programs or awards offered by Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship, applicants agree to submit and/or upload data to the Fluid Review platform, and acknowledge acceptance of the Fluid Review terms and conditions.
  • Declined applicants are welcome to reapply at any time, as long as the team meets all the eligibility requirements (ex. hasn’t graduated)
  • International students are eligible. If they are awarded, additional financial paperwork will be required.
  • Applications for the Validation Phase Award ($250) and Implementation Phase Award ($1000) have no prerequisite.
  • Applicants are only eligible for the Launch Phase Award ($5000) after receiving the Implementation Phase Award.
  • Once a team receives an award, they are no longer eligible to apply for a ‘lesser’ award for that venture (ex. Implementation Award winners cannot apply for a Validation Award). Once a team receives a Launch Award, they are no longer eligible for additional PWIF funding.
  • PWIF funding is intended for early stage ventures.  We do not fund companies that have raised more than $150,000. There are also revenue limits specific to each award.
    • Validation: Venture should be pre-revenue
    • Implementation: Venture can be pre-revenue or have minimal revenue from a paid pilot or beta testers
    • Launch: Venture should have less than $50K in revenue
  • Appropriate use of funds: Funds provided as direct grants to student-led projects can be used to build, test, and develop prototypes, purchase technical and legal resources, engage software developers or engineers, or for other expenses related to developing the idea or invention. The use of funds should clearly make an impact on venture development. Examples of inappropriate use of funds include reimbursing founders’ personal expenses, paying for a resource students could access free of charge, reimbursing for prior travel expenses, etc. The Investment Team wants to see that PWIF funding is making a meaningful impact on venture development.
  • Decisions made by the PWIF Investment Team are final. The Team reserves the right to disqualify any participant, team and/or submission for good cause, including the following reasons:
    • violation of the University’s Code of Student Conduct, Code of Academic Integrity or other policy
    • violation of any local, state or federal law
    • the team or submission has not complied with applicable rules
    • the application does not present sufficient content or material appropriate to merit review

Selection Process, Criteria & Deadlines

  • Applications are reviewed by the PWIF Investment Team, which is made up of current Penn students.
  • Applications are reviewed on a monthly basis from October to April. The are five opportunities to apply each academic year.
  • Evaluation criteria include:
    • Originality of innovation
      • PWIF is most interested in truly innovative ideas, not variations on old technology.
    • Scalability/impact
      • PWIF awards are for venture ideas with the potential to scale, not SMBs/SMEs/small businesses.
    • Viability/practicality
    • Usefulness
    • The development process
    • The founding team
    • Use of funds & impact of PWIF funding
  • A venture can meet all of the criteria and receive positive feedback and still not receive an award, as there is a finite amount of funding to distribute each month.
  • Shortlisted applicants for the Launch Award may be invited to pitch to the Investment Team. Launch Award applicants are expected to be available to attend the meeting date listed below for their particular application cycle. Teams will be notified if they are invited to pitch approximately 1 week before the meeting date.

 

 

Application Deadline
Notification Date (Validation & Implementation applicants)
Launch Award Shortlist Meeting Date Notification Date (Launch applicants)
October 13 October 31 November 6 November 8
November 10 December 5 December 11 December 12
January 26 February 13 February 19 February 20
February 23 March 19 March 25 March 26
April 5 April 23 April 29 April 30

Application

Validation Phase Award ($250)

The PWIF Validation Phase Award is designed to support student entrepreneurs in the ideation or validation phase of venture development.  Selected recipients receive an award of $250.  These funds are intended for validating your idea. If you are not a selected recipient, you can reapply for the award, as long as the team and venture meet the criteria. A venture can only receive this award once.

Application Requirements:

  • 1-2 minute pitch video
  • Application Form
  • Pitch Deck (optional)
  • One-Page Visual Description (optional)

Implementation Phase Award ($1000)

The PWIF Implementation Phase Award is designed to support student entrepreneurs who have a validated idea to develop into a venture.  Selected recipients receive an award of $1000.  These funds are intended for building your venture. If you are not a selected recipient, you can reapply for the award, as long as the team and venture meet the criteria. A venture can only receive this award once.

Application Requirements:

  • 1-2 minute pitch video
  • Application Form
  • Pitch Deck (required)
  • Supplemental documents (optional)

Launch Phase Award ($5000)

The PWIF Launch Phase Award is designed to support student entrepreneurs who have a venture that has launched or is ready to launch.  Selected recipients receive an award of $5000 and only one venture per application cycle will be funded.  These funds are intended for launching your venture. If you are not a selected recipient, you can reapply for the award, as long as the team and venture meet the criteria. A venture can only receive this award once. Once you receive this award, you are not eligible to apply for additional PWIF funding with the same venture. Note that you must have received the Implementation Award to apply for the Launch Award.

Application Requirements:

  • 1-2 minute pitch video
  • Application Form
  • Pitch Deck (required)
  • Executive Summary (required)
  • Financial Projections (required)
  • Supplemental documents (optional)
  • Some applicants will be selected to pitch to the Investment Team committee. Applicants must be available to present in person at an Investment Team meeting.

Which phase should I apply to?

Validation Phase Award ($250)

The PWIF Validation Phase Award is designed to support student entrepreneurs in the ideation or validation phase of venture development.  Apply to the Validation Phase when:

  • This is a new idea that you started working on recently.
  • You have a clear plan to validate your idea and test your assumptions
  • You need funding to run a large scale survey
  • You need funding to build a proof of concept

Implementation Phase Award ($1000)

The PWIF Implementation Phase Award is designed to support student entrepreneurs who have a validated idea to develop into a venture.  Apply to the Implementation Phase Award when:

  • You have a validated idea
    • You completed a survey with a large sample size where potential customers (in your target market) indicated their interest
    • You have a list of potential customers who have signed up for a mailing list
    • You have data that demonstrates the need for your product or service
    • You have pre-orders
    • You’ve interviewed a significant number of people from your target market
    • You’ve built a proof of concept
    • You’ve tested and proven a customer’s willingness to pay
    • You’ve discovered a way to make your product/service defensible
    • You’ve mitigated for any major hurdles toward adoption of your product/service
  • You need funding to build your validated idea
  • You need funding to run a pilot

Launch Phase Award ($5000)

The PWIF Launch Phase Award is designed to support student entrepreneurs who have a venture that has launched or is ready to launch.

  • You have already received an Implementation Phase Award.
  • You are generating revenue or have an immediate path to generate revenue
  • You have launched your venture or have an immediate path to launch
  • You’ve built and activated your sales pipeline
  • You are actively raising a round of seed funding
  • You have a viable monetization strategy
  • You need funding for legal fees

Additional Info

  • Teams are asked to report any news such as name changes, funds raised, acquisitions, exits, and shutting down.
  • Though not required, we hope you keep in touch with us and consider giving back to the fund to support future generations of Penn entrepreneurs.

Payment Process

Award funds are distributed via Direct Deposit.

Process

Owner

Approximate Time

Submit Paperwork via Fluid Review YOU ASAP (and no later than 1 month from Award Letter Date)
Receive Paperwork & Input your information into vendor payment system Payment Coordinator 5 to 7 business days
Sends email asking you to register as Supplier Penn Accounts Payable 5 to 7 business days
Complete vendor registration (uploading your tax documents and direct deposit information) YOU ASAP (and no less than 1 business day)
Request sent to AP to release funds Payment Coordinator 5 – 7 business days
Funds are released Penn Accounts Payable 10 – 15 business days

Please Note: Incomplete/Incorrect Paperwork, peak business operations, sick days and vacation days can cause further delays in this process.

Why I {heart} The Innovation Fund

by Ashwin Baweja, ENG’15/GEN’15/W’15 Founder of HashFav

“Luckily, the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund is a pillar of support for early entrepreneurs and helped me and my startup when we needed it most.”

Support the Innovation Fund

Join us in supporting innovative Penn students!

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