Funding Resources

The CoMotion Innovation Investments group provides internal gap funding and helps UW projects and startups identify and apply for commercialization funds. A funding gap exists when basic research funding is no longer appropriate and a project needs funds for product development. Many federal agencies and non-profit foundations make funds available to help technologies bridge this gap. These translational or commercialization awards provide innovators with non-dilutive funding, and allows them to maintain working ties between their spinoff and the UW research group.

The Innovation Investments team within CoMotion can assist innovators to identify and apply for funding for commercialization of their UW research. The support our experienced staff provides can significantly increase your chances of success. Contact us for more information.

Many grants, awards, and competitions are available to researchers and students. The programs are all highly competitive and 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 funding applications (note that the more lead time that is provided, the more aid CoMotion can provide). Provide CoMotion resources, including experienced business mentors who can help develop a defensible business model.

CoMotion funding programs

  • CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund

    The CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund is a partnership between CoMotion and the Washington Research Foundation to provide up to $1 million per year with $50K grants awarded to up to 20 teams. Our mission is to fund and support projects that have a high chance to have impact but are unlikely to get there without gap funding. The Innovation Gap Fund program is intended to help technologies get across the "valley of death" between the conclusion of academic research grants and the level of development at which they can attract seed stage investment. The grants fund market research, customer discovery, and creation of business plans.

    For more information, please click here.


    CoMotion partners with WE-REACH to provide resources and project funding up to $200,000 in direct costs to accelerate impactful product development based on innovations in the life sciences. WE-REACH awards are available for the commercial development of promising life sciences technologies having a sound scientific basis and high potential for impact on health.

    For more information, please click here.

  • Commercialization Fellow Program

    When they see an opportunity to accelerate a team and technology, the CoMotion Innovation Development managers will invite graduate students to apply for our highly competitive fellows program to explore commercialization in their fields of study. Strong preference is given for graduating PhD students. Each commercialization fellow will work closely with both their faculty advisor and the CoMotion project team to advance commercialization activities and project development. Learn more about the Commercialization Fellows Program.

  • CoMotion DubPitch

    This biannual funding opportunity is open to UW spinoffs, CoMotion Labs startups and startups from WE-REACH and the Mobility Innovation Center who are currently fundraising. For more information contact

Public funding for innovations

  • NSF I-Corps Site

    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.

    Have an idea that you think has commercial potential? Dream of starting a company in the future? Then the UW NSF I-Corps Site program may be right for you. Learn more...


    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.

  • Washington Research Foundation (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 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. Learn more.

Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship Competitions

  • Dempsey Startup Competition (Dempsey Startup)

    The Dempsey Startup Competition (Dempsey Startup) is a platform for student-led ventures. The competition provides student teams with mentoring from entrepreneurs and investors, the opportunity to tell their stories to the Seattle startup community, and the visibility they need to get going. More than 5,190 students have participated in this annual new venture competition since its inception in 1998, and the Buerk Center has awarded 183 teams with $1,458, 240 in seed funding awarded.

  • Alaska Airlines Environmental Innov. 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.