Public Funding for Innovations


NSF-I Corps Site Program

The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) is a federally funded program to accelerate academic research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization. As the collaborative innovation hub of the UW, CoMotion® has secured an NSF grant to establish an I-Corps Site on campus. The CoMotion I-Corps Site issues approximately 30 awards per year. Grantees learn to identify valuable commercial opportunities that can emerge from academic research, gain skills in entrepreneurship through training, develop a mentor network of seasoned entrepreneurs, and receive $2,500 to fund their customer discovery process.


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
  • 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.


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.


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 startups 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 startup companies to develop new products and services based on advanced technologies. Some participating agencies have a hard ceiling for their awards.

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

Washington Research Foundation

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 startups.

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 Innovation Gap Fund 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.