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Innovation Accelerator

The Innovation Accelerator provides funding to assist Penn Nursing students and faculty with the creation and testing of early stage solutions to improve health and health care outcomes with a priority on populations of greatest need.


The Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator provides up to $10k for research and development of a proposed innovation idea that has an existing low-fidelity prototype which has been minimally tested. The award amount will be determined by the budget and justification provided by the applicant (maximum of $10k). Mentorship & coaching will be provided by Penn Nursing’s Innovation team and others from the Penn Innovation and Entrepreneurship community, as appropriate.  

New for 2024 - In partnership with Pennovation Works, the Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator winners will be accepted into the 2024 Pennovation Accelerator and participate in the six-week summer program to further develop their business strategy and cultivate their network. Dates are still being set, but the accelerator will run from June-July 2024 (not including the week of July 4th), one afternoon, in person at the Pennovation Center. Check out the 2023 Pennovation Accelerator here.

Applicant Qualifications

The lead innovator for the application must be a full-time member of the Penn Nursing faculty (standing, associated, and teaching faculty) or matriculated student in a Penn Nursing Program with a minimum of one calendar year remaining in their program. Nurses employed full-time in the Penn Medicine hospitals are welcome to participate in the innovation accelerator if they partner with a Penn Nursing faculty lead or co-lead. Projects will be funded for one year.


Winners will develop their innovation with ongoing advice from their assigned mentors throughout one year (June-May). Quarterly progress reports will be submitted to Penn Nursing’s Director of Innovation. Budget expenditures must be compliant with all university rules, and changes in budget allocation must be approved by the Director of Innovation and the Executive Director of the Office of Nursing Research. The award cannot be used for salaries or education materials. Travel for research and development of the innovation will be considered in accordance with University policies.

Award distribution will be based on the approved timeline and milestones submitted with the application. All funding will be contingent upon the completion of the approved timeline and milestones. A final report and budget reconciliation will be due within thirty (30) days after the completion of the project. In addition, the lead innovators will provide an oral pitch of the status of their project at the following year’s pitch event. Projects funded through the Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator are subject to the University patent policy.

2024 Call for Proposals

The application portal will open on December 1, 2023 and close on January 31, 2024.  

How it Works

Applicants submit an initial application (round 1) and budget request through the application portal. Applicants will be notified if they are selected to participate in the second round of virtual interviews where they will describe in more detail their innovation, project details, budgetary details, and team members. Finalists emerging from round 2 will present at a virtual pitch event in the third and final round to a panel of judges. 

  • Round 1: Online applicationDecember 1, 2023 - January 31, 2024
  • Round 2: Interviews – February, 2024
    • Applicants selected to move on to Round 2 are required to attend a Business Model Canvas session prior to the Round 2 interview.
  • Round 3: Pitch Event - April 4, 2024 (virtually)
    • Those selected to move on to Round 3 are provided with a practice pitch session and pitch template prior to the pitch event.
    • Register here to attend.

NOTE: All winners of the Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator must attend the 6-week, in person, accelerator at the Pennovation Center, one afternoon per week between June-July, 2024 (excluding the week of July 4th).

Information Sessions

Make room on your calendar to learn more at a virtual information session. Stay tuned for registration details.

  • December 13, 2023, 4p ET
  • December 18, 2023, 12p ET
  • January 9, 2024, 3p ET
  • January 18, 2024, 9a ET
  • January 24, 2024, 4p ET

Criteria for Initial Application:

  • The potential of the proposed product or process to add value to health or healthcare
  • Feasibility of the innovation and ability to practically implement
  • Thoroughness of approach (timeline, milestones)
  • Novelty of the innovation
  • Strength of the team
  • Timeline
  • Potential for commercialization or sustainability of the proposed solution
  • Feasibility to conduct the proposed work virtually in the context of COVID19, if applicable


In the current covid19 era all innovation applicants will need to keep in mind certain restrictions:

  • If restrictions require, you will need to consider how can you understand the problem from the point of view of your stakeholders virtually or using other methods.
  • In addition, considerations for how you will recruit participants, collect data, and test your innovation virtually or using other creative methods will also need to be considered.
  • Meetings with mentors and peers as well as pitch sessions may take place virtually.

Please Note: By submitting an idea, participants acknowledge and hereby agree that they will fully comply with the program guidelines including all participation requirements and all applicable University of Pennsylvania policies and regulations. Failure by a participant to adhere to any of the rules, guidelines and conditions will result in withdrawal of such participant’s (or their team’s) proposal. Penn reserves the right to withdraw submissions at its sole discretion.

Submissions will be reviewed by a committee consisting of senior Penn faculty, staff, and selected external panelists. By submitting a proposal, participants hereby authorize Penn to share all information and materials provided to Penn by each participant (or team participants) with Penn faculty, staff, and third parties for the purposes of activities relating to reviewing submissions and awarding funding to recipients.

Supported by Carolyn E. Bennett (NU’91) and Thomas L. Bennett; Seth Ginns (C’20) and Jane Ginns; and Andrea B. Laporte (NU’69).

Watch the 2023 Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator Pitch Event

Watch the 2022 Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator Pitch Event

Watch the 2021 Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator Pitch Event