Gap Funding

Funding Your Commercialization Efforts

To better identify and win funding for commercialization of UW research, CoMotion® has established the New Ventures Program with significant resources and experienced staff. Contact us for more information.

Many grants, awards, and competitions are available to researchers and students. While CoMotion can assist in various aspects of these grants, the programs are all highly competitive. UW innovators should expect to dedicate significant time to applying for these opportunities.

Your role as a UW Innovator: Ownership of application, timely response to communication, attending working meetings and presentations where applicable, and providing progress reports where applicable.

Our role at CoMotion: Provide guidance and advice on commercialization grant applications (note that the more lead time that is provided, the more aid CoMotion can provide).  Provide CoMotion resources (IP landscape, market analysis, etc.) for UW internal funding programs.

UW Grants & Competitions

CoMotion Innovation Fund

The CoMotion Innovation Fund is a partnership between CoMotion and the Washington Research Foundation to help promising innovations reach the level of development at which they can attract seed stage investment. We enlist a team of experienced business and sector professionals to work with you to develop a strategic project application for grants of up to $50,000. Learn more.

Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program

The University of Washington is one of ten universities to receive the Coulter Translational Partnership Award in Biomedical Engineering. This multi-year grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation supports translational research in biomedical engineering research directed at the transfer of promising technologies within the university research laboratory that are progressing towards commercial development and clinical practice.

The UW Coulter program pairs a bioengineer with a physician on projects that have a high likelihood of being licensed to existing companies, or of serving as the focus for a start-up company within two to three years. Grants up to $100,000 per year are available. The UW is demonstrating the concept that the combination of a bioengineer and customer/physician will offer a better chance of success for the project.

The Coulter program is highly integrated with the CGF program, which may provide follow-on support to Coulter projects. Learn more.

ITHS Pilot Funding & Ignition Award

The Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) is a partnership among the University of Washington (UW), Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) and other local institutions, and offers funds for novel and innovative pilot and collaborative translational and clinical research.

The Ignition Award is designed to support innovative, translational studies. The program is intended to help investigators generate preliminary data to serve as the basis for submitting a subsequent grant and/or clinical studies. Particular emphasis and priority will be given to applications directed at the development of novel therapeutics (small molecules or biologics). Grants are awarded up to $40,000 in funding. Pilot grants provide $10,000 per award. Pilot funding priorities include projects proposed by junior faculty or senior faculty with new research emphases, by inter- or multidisciplinary teams, by scientists partnering with industry to develop new technologies, and by community-based investigators. Learn more.

The ITHS program is highly integrated with the CGF program, which may provide follow-on support to ITHS projects.

Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition

The annual Business Plan Competition is a premier event for the Foster School of Business involving more than 300 alumni and entrepreneurs as judges, mentors, and supporters. In the past twelve years, the Business Plan Competition, open to all students who are enrolled in a degree program in the state of Washington, has awarded $872,000 in prize money to 87 student companies. The competition provides an opportunity for business and science students to present new business plans to Seattle area venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and investors. Learn more at the Buerk Center website.

CoMotion projects that have performed well in the Business Plan Competition have often gone on to receive commercialization grants, and it is not unusual for these teams to move on to form a new company.

Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge

The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School produces the annual Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge in partnership with the College of Engineering and the College of the Environment, sponsored in part by CoMotion. Interdisciplinary teams of business and engineering students are challenged to develop products that address up-and-coming market conditions and show potential to generate revenue while enhancing environmental sustainability. In 2014, CoMotion-sponsored Korvata won the $10,000 grand prize for their cutting edge alternative energy product that allows companies to mitigate their environmental impact by replacing the use of nitrous oxide as a whipped cream propellant. Learn more at the Buerk Center website.

Health Innovation Challenge

New in 2016, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship launched the Health Innovation Challenge, providing an exciting opportunity for student teams from across the Pacific Northwest to develop good ideas that will improve treatments and systems in the healthcare space. New medical devices, global health solutions, fitness apps, informatics, business models and more are topics the interdisciplinary teams bring forward. They produce a simulation or prototype, along with a business summary, and have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a room full of expert judges from the community. This challenge is in partnership with the College of Engineering and supported in part by CoMotion.

USEED@UW Crowdsourcing Platform

USEED@UW is a tool for fueling initiatives through crowd-sourced philanthropic giving. The Innovator can partner with the University on any number of projects and share the news with friends, family and colleagues. Together with the Innovator, USEED works to provide a dynamic learning environment and embrace the spirit of discovery, innovation and community involvement at the heart of the UW. Learn more.

Washington State Grants

Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF)

LSDF supports innovative research in Washington State to promote life sciences competitiveness, enhance economic vitality, and improve health and health care. Their commercialization grants provide up to $150,000 in funding for projects much like those that win CGF grants. The traditional LSDF Program Grants require applicants to address health impact for Washington citizens, and can be used for innovations that are further from commercialization. CoMotion works closely with UW researchers to assist them in preparing grant applications and to support them as they carry out commercialization grant awards. Learn more at the LSDF website.

Contact us for more information on applying to the LSDF.

Washington Research Foundation Gift Program (WRF)

The mission of the WRF is “to increase the value of intellectual property arising from research institutions across the state.” WRF makes strategic gifts to research projects, and its associated venture capital arm invests in university start-ups.

WRF gifts have supported the creation of more than 100 endowments for chairs, professorships, research fellowships and graduate stipends in science, medicine and engineering. Educational programs created and supported by WRF include the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UW Foster School of Business) and the Program for Technology Commercialization (UW Bioengineering). WRF was a founding supporter of CoMotion’s CGF program and gap funding programs at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Washington State University. The gifts to Washington State research institutions are targeted to projects with commercial potential. Learn more.

National & Federally Funded Programs


Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) promotes university-industry partnerships by making project funds or fellowships/traineeships available to support an eclectic mix of industry-university linkages. Special interest is focused on affording the opportunity for:

  • Faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students to conduct research and gain experience in an industrial setting;
  • Industrial scientists and engineers to bring industry's perspective and integrative skills to academe; and
  • Interdisciplinary university-industry teams to conduct research projects.

Solicitation for these grants tends to emphasize high-risk/high-reward research, with a focus on fundamental research, new approaches to solving generic problems, development of innovative collaborative industry-university educational programs, and direct transfer of new knowledge between academe and industry. GOALI seeks to fund transformative research that lies beyond that which industry would normally fund. Learn more.


The overall objective of the Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovations Research-Technology Transfer (PFI:AIR-TT) program is to provide funding that will enable research discoveries to be translated onto a path toward commercial reality while engaging faculty and students in entrepreneurial and market-oriented thinking. The PFI:AIR-TT solicitation supports research to overcome technology barriers/knowledge gaps in the translation of NSF-funded fundamental science and engineering discoveries toward market-valued solutions. It provides an opportunity for investigators to conduct the necessary research to develop a proof-of-concept, prototype, or scale-up of the prototype that addresses real-world constraints and provides a competitive value in a potential application space. Learn more.

SBIR & STTR Programs

CoMotion provides assistance and, in some cases takes the lead, in writing applications for these federal programs as part of the commercialization strategy for UW researchers. SBIR and STTR grants are particularly valuable for UW start-ups in supporting product development, translational research, and applied projects. SBIR Phase I awards start at $150,000 and Phase II awards start at $1M and can increase to as much as $2M.

Through these two competitive programs, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) ensures that the nation’s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government’s research and development efforts. SBIR and STTR programs provide more than $2.5 billion in grants and contracts each year to small businesses and start-up companies to develop new products and services based on advanced technologies. Some participating agencies have a hard ceiling for their awards. Learn more here.

Contact us for more information on applying for SBIR/STTR grants.