Penn Wharton Innovation Fund

Applications for PWIF will re-open on October 29, 2018. The next deadline for PWIF is November 11th at Midnight EST.

Please note our application process has changed. We now have 3 different award levels based upon your venture implementation phase.

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

Questions? Contact Ann Miller

The Penn Wharton Innovation Fund exists to fund creative and meaningfully innovative ventures from the Penn community. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff are invited to apply, although student-led projects are given preference. 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.”  We have funded over 300 ventures to date and all funding decisions are made by our Investment Team.

PWIF Details

Eligibility

  • Current Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni are encouraged to apply.  A Penn affiliated team member must be the Team Lead on the application.
  • Both Nonprofits and For Profits are eligible.
  • Declined applicants are welcome to reapply at any time
  • International students are eligible. They must submit additional documentation.
  • You may apply more than once, with the same venture or a different venture.
  • 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.
  • Applicants may receive more than one Validation Phase Award for the same venture or for a new venture.
  • All applicants for the fund MUST be a Founding member of the team.
  • PWIF funding is intended for early stage ventures.  We do not fund companies that have raised more than $150,000.

Selection Process & Deadlines

  • Applications for the PWIF are reviewed by the PWIF Investment Team, which is made up of current Penn students.
  • Applications are reviewed on a monthly basis from September to April.
  • We evaluate ventures on:
    • Originality of Innovation
    • Scalability/impact
    • Viability/practicality
    • Usefulness
    • The development process
Application Deadline (Sundays) Review Period Notification Date (Fridays)
September 16 9/17 – 9/26 September 28
October 14 10/15 – 10/24 October 26
November 11 11/12 – 11/28 November 30
December 2 12/2 – 12/13 December 14
February 10 2/11 – 2/27 March 1
March 17 3/18 – 3/27 March 29
April 21 4/22 – 5/8 May 10

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, but your chances of being awarded are greater than 50%.  These funds are intended for validating your idea.  Funding may be used to build prototypes, run a pilot program, or conduct market research. If you are not a selected recipient, you can re-apply for the award an indefinite number of times. Applicants can be rewarded multiple times for the same venture or submit a new application for a new venture.

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 and only fifty ventures will be funded over the course of the academic year.  These funds are intended for building your venture.  Funding may be used for web development, web hosting, legal fees, pilots programs, marketing and sales, interns, or other activities that further your venture development. If you are not a selected recipient, feel free to re-apply; however, if selected, you can only receive the 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 ten ventures will be funded over the course of the academic year.  These funds are intended for launching your venture.  Funding may be used for further web development, web hosting, legal fees, pilots programs, marketing and sales, interns, or other activities that further your venture development.  If you are not a selected recipient, feel free to re-apply; however, if selected, you can only receive the award once.

Application Requirements:

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

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:

  • You JUST came up with the idea
  • You need funding to run a large scale survey
  • You need funding to buy materials to build a prototype
  • You need funding to build an MVP
  • You have a plan to validate your idea
  • You have a plan to test your assumptions

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 can prove 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
    • There is a massive market opportunity for this solution
    • 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 launch 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

Requirements

  • The PWIF does not take equity in ventures.  In order to be eligible for a second or third award, you must report back on the use of funds from your previous award.
  • The PWIF asks that you report back 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.
  • Appropriate use of funds: Funds provided as direct grants to student-led projects can be used to build, test and develop prototypes, to purchase technical and legal resources, engage software developers or engineers, or for other expenses related to developing the idea or invention.

Payment Process

Award funds are distributed via Direct Deposit.

Process

Owner

Approximate Time

Submit Paperwork YOU < 1 month from Award Letter Date

Receive Paperwork & Input your information into vendor payment system

Payment Coordinator 2 to 4 business days
Trigger Email for you to register account Financial Coordinator 2 to 4 business days
Complete vendor registration (uploading your tax documents and direct deposit information) YOU 1 business day
AP Releases Funds 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

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